The New York Giants are picking fourth overall in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. This is their third straight season picking inside the top-ten. It is a crucial draft that general manager Dave Gettleman needs to get right in order to keep his job.
The Giants have many positions of need, but arguably their weakest position is offensive tackle. Luckily for New York, the 2020 NFL Draft class is rich in offensive line talent, especially in the first round. One of the top offensive tackle prospects in this year’s class is Andrew Thomas, a refined prospect out of Georgia.
This article is the third installment of a new article series here on Empire Sports Media. This new series, the NFL Draft Profile series, will feature breakdowns of notable draft prospects to create a profile that summarizes and highlights the prospects’ top strengths and weaknesses. You can check out the first installment, the Isaiah Simmons NFL Draft Profile, here. The second installment, the Mekhi Becton NFL Draft profile, can be found here.
Granted, I am not an expert draft analyst. However, in this article, I will be breaking down Andrew Thomas as a prospect after watching hours of his film and using credible draft analysis from various sites such as NFL.com, Pro Football Focus, and The Draft Network intertwined with my own analysis. I will use the expert analysis to cross-check and cross-reference. I will use it to confirm or deny what I have seen on film. A YouTube video will also accompany this article on our channel, Fireside Giants. Unlike the last two draft profiles, I did not make this video. Instead, our chief engineer behind the Fireside Giants YouTube channel, Mike Iarrapino, made our Andrew Thomas Scouting Profile video.
Unlike Mekhi Becton, Andrew Thomas’s technique is not his biggest weakness- it is his biggest strength. Thomas is a polished offensive line prospect with a refined technique that allows him to excel as both a run-blocker and a pass-blocker.
Georgia’s 2019 matchup versus LSU is an excellent game to watch when evaluating Andrew Thomas. Thomas starting at left tackle, was tasked with defending LSU’s first-round EDGE prospect K’Lavon Chaisson. Chaisson has game-breaking speed for his position and is a handful for any offensive tackle that he is matched up against. But Andrew Thomas rose to the challenge and put together an impressive performance shutting down Chaisson despite a lopsided loss to the LSU Tigers.
In this Tweet, below are some of the best clips from Andrew Thomas’s matchup against K’Lavon Chaisson. Note the incredible lateral quickness that Thomas possesses as he efficiently beats Chaisson to the spot each rep and easily redirects Chaisson to the turf while remaining balanced and technical:
— Anthony Rivardo (@Anthony_Rivardo) April 3, 2020
Andrew Thomas has excellent balance. He has very active feet that give him the ability to be a secure pass-protector. Seeing Thomas handle a speedy pro-level edge rusher like Chaisson bodes well for his NFL future. But he is not perfect in this regard and does have some technical difficulties against speed rushers that sometimes get him into trouble.
Andrew’s advanced technique also shows up in his run-blocking performance. The Georgia tackle is known for being a proficient run-blocker, and his technique and high football IQ are a big reason why.
Andrew Thomas is an excellent run-blocking offensive tackle. He demonstrated time and time again that he has no problem moving defenders to open up holes for Georgia’s talented running backs. Thomas’s run-blocking talents were on full display in Georgia’s 2019 matchups against Notre Dame and Texas.
In the Tweet below are some of my favorite highlights of Andrew Thomas run-blocking. Thomas throws multiple key blocks in single plays. He has high football IQ and great spatial awareness, which allows him to do this.
— Anthony Rivardo (@Anthony_Rivardo) April 3, 2020
Andrew Thomas does a great job with cut-off blocks. He seals off defenders away from the running lanes and gives them no chance to get in front of the running back.
Pass Protection Against Speed Rushers:
I previously presented some highlights from Andrew Thomas’s matchup with LSU speed rusher K’Lavon Chaisson. That was one of Thomas’s most impressive games as he handled the difficult matchup exceptionally well. Still, not every play from that game was a win for Thomas, and some flaws in Andrew’s game did show up against Chaisson (and other speed rushers in other games).
Andrew Thomas’s technique against speedy edge rushers can be inconsistent. His footwork against speed guys sometimes gets him into trouble as his lateral agility can be stunted by lousy technique and footwork. Speed rushers have opportunities to beat Thomas around the edge with pure burst and bend.
The footwork against speed rushers is Andrew Thomas’s main issue. Often his initial kick step does not place him back far enough, and when he tries to shuffle to the right spot, it is already too late. That first step is vital for offensive tackles, and when facing an edge rusher with an abundance of burst, that first step needs to be perfect.
Some issues arise with Andrew’s hands when defending speed rushers. Whether he is late to initiate contact or has his elbows too wide, this is somewhere that Andrew Thomas needs to be more consistent.
He can struggle to keep pace up the arc with speed off the edge so cleaning up his pass sets is necessary. -Joe Marino of The Draft Network
Andrew Thomas is a refined offensive tackle prospect. His technique is polished. Thomas also possesses more than enough strength and athleticism to get the job done in the NFL.
Thomas’s strength is as a run-blocker, where he has excellent spatial awareness and high football IQ that allows him to make multiple key blocks in a single play. He does have some occasional whiffs, as all lineman do, but he is a remarkably consistent run-blocker that uses his refined technique to open up holes and drive defensive linemen backward.
Andrew Thomas does struggle at times when matching up against speedy edge rushers and will need to work on this in the NFL. Thomas will need to improve his footwork and lateral quickness/agility against speed rushers off the edge. His hand placement and initial contact can use some improvement, too. His hands are too wide sometimes and cause him to miss the defender. He also has some reps where he waits too long to initiate contact, and, when he does, there is sometimes not enough power behind the punch.
The New York Giants have many different options they can select at the fourth overall pick. If the Giants go offensive tackle in the first round, they need to give serious consideration to Andrew Thomas. Thomas’s proficient run-blocking will help Saquon Barkley flourish in Jason Garrett’s offense that, in Dallas, featured an elite left tackle in Tyron Smith for years.
Drafting Andrew Thomas would not only make Saquon Barkley better, but it would help Daniel Jones develop, too. Jones needs stability at the left tackle position, and while there might be some growing pains for Thomas early on in his career (especially when dealing with speed rushers), he has exhibited the potential to be a premier offensive tackle with a polished technique to succeed as a pass-blocker. This is not me saying that Andrew Thomas should definitely be the pick (I am still leaning towards Isaiah Simmons), but Andrew Thomas to the Giants is a draft pick I would not hate- especially if they land him in a trade-back scenario.