There is no question the New York Giants are taking a calculated risk with the offensive line unit this upcoming season, having failed to allocate more resources toward an injection of talent.
However, there is an argument to make that the line could play well above expectations, coming off a disappointing 2020 season where they ranked near dead last in the NFL and pass-blocking efficiency. They had multiple rookies starting at times, including at left tackle, right tackle, left guard, and a first-year center. The only established veteran who was considered an above-average talent was Kevin Zeitler, who they cut this off-season to save salary space.
If the line takes a healthy step forward, quarterback Daniel Jones will reap the benefits, but it remains a big â€œif.â€ Solidifying the tackle spots should be a priority for Big Blue, and bringing in former Louisiana OL coach and offensive coordinator Rob Sale should benefit tremendously with continuity in the coaching staff and a fantastic teacher. The Giants also hired Pat Flaherty as a consultant to help Sale adjust to the NFL.
Nonetheless, two rookies from last season are preparing to take a developmental step forward, as both dealt with a number of negative factors that impact their performance in 2020.
Two offensive linemen who could break out for the New York Giants next season:
According to PFF, Thomas allowed 10 sacks, 39 QB hurries, and 57 pressures last year, an underwhelming performance that wasnâ€™t an indication of quality. Coming out of Georgia, Thomas was known for his aggressive style of play in the run game and strength in pass blocking. He had a few adequate performances, notably against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 13, but he also had a few dismal outings, for example, in Week 14 against Arizona, he allowed two sacks and seven pressures.
However, it is important to note that Thomas was dealing with a variety of issues, ranging from an ankle injury he suffered in training camp to a lack of experience with his teammates.
Having a full off-season of work and chemistry building should do him wonders, and heâ€™s been training alongside friend and Giants rookie Azeez Ojulari to improve his technique and athleticism.
With a year of experience under his belt and a clean bill of health, Thomas is prime to take a step forward â€” Daniel Jones is depending on it.
The expectation heading into the 2021 season is that Matt Peart will earn the first opportunity as a starting right tackle. As a superior athlete at 6â€™7â€ and 318 pounds, the 24-year-old had phenomenal numbers at the combine in the broad-jump, 40-yard dash, arm length, and height. His physical traits make him a fantastic prospect to become an even more influential part in the trenches for Big Blue and are depending on him to take a step forward.
Peart earned reps on both the left and right side last year but unfortunately came down with Covid, which impacted the second half of his season. During Peartâ€™s initial injection into the starting group, he did not allow a sack until Covid impacted his stamina and overall strength. He struggled against Baltimore in Week 16 specifically, allowing a sack and two pressures. He specifically stood out in the run game, carving out lanes for Wayne Gallman in the Giantsâ€™ power-gap scheme.
With an increase in size and quickness, Peart should be a force in the running game for Saquon Barkley upon his return, and if he can hold up in pass protection, the Giants mightâ€™ve landed a steal in the third round of the 2020 draft.