New York Giants: Nick Gates ready to breakout in second year starting at center

New York Giants, Nick Gates

The New York Giants are continuing to build and develop their young offensive line. The Giants’ offensive line was among the worst in the NFL in 2020.

The Giants’ pass-block win rate in 2020, according to ESPN, ranked dead-last in the NFL at 46%. Their run-block win-rate ranked 18th at 70%, which is about average or slightly below. So while the Giants did upgrade Daniel Jones’s weapons in free agency, fans feel like they still desperately need to fix the offensive line in front of him.

New York did not touch their offensive line much this offseason. However, there is some young talent that the Giants have on their roster already. Young players could develop into quality starters this season.

One of those young studs is center Nick Gates. 2020 was Gates’s first year playing the center position and he started all sixteen games for the Giants in the middle of the line. Despite having no experience at center before, Gates performed as arguably the Giants’ best offensive lineman last season. Entering 2021, Gates is looking to break out in his second year starting at center.

Nick Gates stats and highlights

Nick Gates was arguably the Giants’ most improved player in 2020. But he has room to grow in 2021 and could be their most improved player once again. Gates started out his career playing right tackle for the Giants in 2019. He then moved into guard later that season. Nick Gates impressed everyone who watched him play in 2019 as an unknown player that rose from the bottom of the roster.

With his impressive play in 2019, Nick Gates earned a starting job in 2020. The question was which position he would play. Would Gates move back to tackle, stay at guard, or try something new at center? Ultimately, Nick Gates made the switch to center, a wise decision by the Giants’ coaching staff.

There were growing pains, for sure, as Nick Gates got acclimated to his new position. According to Pro Football Focus, Nick Gates’s pass-blocking grade ranked 32nd out of 35 centers through the first six weeks of the season. He turned it around though, posting a 70.1 pass-block grade from Week 7 on, ranking eleventh in the NFL.

An argument could be made stating that Nick Gates was the Giants’ best offensive lineman in 2020. But the young hog molly has room to improve and should take a big step this season. After allowing 0 sacks on 1,013 snaps in 2020, there is reason for optimism behind the Giants’ starting center. Nick Gates is athletic and already a stout run-blocker. With some refinement in pass protection, Nick Gates could turn into an elite offensive lineman in 2021.

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