Just two weeks ago, the New York Giants’ offensive line looked vastly different. With Nate Solder entering the third year of a four-year deal, he was expected to compete with fourth overall pick Andrew Thomas at left tackle. Solder had a tumultuous 2019 campaign, allowing 11 sacks and five penalties. He allowed the third-most sacks in the NFL at the tackle position, but personal issues played a significant part in his deficiencies.
General manager Dave Gettleman had never spent a first-round pick on an offensive lineman prior to 2020 when Thomas was selected. Maybe, Joe Judge played a part in that development.
Nonetheless, Solder has since opted out of the 2020 season, and Thomas will now compete with incumbent Cam Fleming. It also shakes up the right tackle position quite a bit. Fleming has experience on both sides, and Nick Gates, who started to games at right tackle last year, will also complete.
The tackle and center positions are littered with questions. The Giants featured Jon Halapio at center in 2019. He suffered a torn Achilles just one year after breaking his leg. Two significant injuries should justify his supplementation. The Giants still have Spenser Pulley available and have been working with Gates to transition to the interior potentially.
New York Giants head coach Joe judge stated on a conference call Wednesday:
“We have seen Gates snap the ball.”
He said Nick Gates, who just signed a contract extension, could factor into any of the five starting OL spots. He said the coaches need to do a good job of mapping out how they split his practice reps.
The former undrafted free agent from Nebraska has been working with Derek Carr under center in Vegas. Getting the extra reps under his belt going into training camp could prove to be significant for his development. The Giants desperately need to fill the center position with quality, and Gates showed great potential at guard and tackle in 2019. Despite limited snaps, he was one of the highest-rated players on the line, via PFF.
Halapio struggled to maintain blocks in anchor down, allowing two sacks and five penalties last year. He earned a 56.3 overall grade. While he was just a smidge better in pass blocking than run blocking, the Giants can no longer rely on him to hold down the middle of the line.
New offense of coordinator Jason Garrett and lineman coach Marc Colombo expect a strong group in the trenches.
Best case scenario, the Giants are able to build them a line similar to the Cowboys. Protecting your quarterback and opening up running lanes for a player like Saquon Barkley is all you need to have a potent offense.