There are a few factors that could hold back the New York Giants’ offense in 2021, and the offensive line remains one of them. Management didn’t do much to improve the unit this off-season, after ranking 31st in pass protection last year and allowing 45 sacks on Daniel Jones. Ultimately, there are reasons to be optimistic, considering the team will hold in-person training and have a regular preseason to utilize, but based on the performance of the unit over the past few years, it’s justifiable to be objective.
The Giants feel confident at left tackle, left guard, and center. However, the right guard and right tackle positions remain a question after they released Kevin Zeitler and didn’t do much to help bolster the tackle spot opposite Andrew Thomas. They will be gaining Nate Solder back, but he hasn’t played right tackle since his rookie season in 2011.
Nonetheless, let’s take a look at an exciting position battle at RT between a veteran and youth player.
Right tackle: Nate Solder V Matt Peart
Solder accepted a steep pay cut to stick with the Giants this upcoming season. At the height of his game, he was a solid starter. While traditionally a left tackle, Solder will be asked to compete at RT this upcoming year, but there’s no guarantee he will have a successful experience. At 33 years old, Solder is not only getting older, but he missed last season after opting out due to COVID-19.
Mentally, the veteran has been checked out the past few years, struggling considerably in 2019 on the left side, finishing with a 52.9 overall run-blocking grade and 66.5 pass-blocking grade, per PFF. He had a few stand-out performances, but the second half of the campaign was problematic at best.
Making the transition over to the right side will have its challenges, but Solder luckily has a bit of experience in the category and will compete valiantly for starting reps. I do believe he is a more refined player than Cam Fleming, who the Giants utilized as their primary starter in 2020, but it is impossible to predict what he will offer this upcoming year.
Peart, on the other hand, had himself a few solid performances in his rookie season, but ultimately contracted Covid, which significantly hurt his stamina. The final two games of the season were poor for the rookie out of Connecticut, but he had a few optimistic outings, specifically in the run game.
He only enjoyed 150 offensive snaps, but that essential experience should contribute significantly in his second season. He has added a bit of muscle mass to his frame, and with fantastic tangible’s, including ridiculously long arms and a solid base, he has all the physical traits to be a plus OT at the NFL level.
Again, his strength remains the run, but if he can progress efficiently and pass blocking, the Giants will not only have two starting tackles for the future but two players who are on the rookie contract, allowing them to spend in other areas without having to worry.
This is an exciting position battle to consider and watch during training camp, as the best case scenario for the Giants would be for Peart to win out and prove he can hold it down on the right side of the line. Ultimately, with expected struggles at right guard, that RT position should be even more important.