The New York Giants‘ offensive line is the team’s kryptonite; it has been for the last five years. Finally, the Giants made improvements to the offensive line through the draft and free agency. As a fan, this makes me very happy, protecting Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley is the primary concern. All fans want to see these guys play for eight-plus years. There are a lot of questions that need to be addressed this offseason. Who will start at left tackle? Nate Solder, or Andrew Thomas? Who will win the starting center job, Spencer Pulley, Nick Gates, or Shane Lemieux?
I think the end of the preseason will answer all these questions. Joe Judge and the coaching staff want the best man to win the starting job. All these players are going to get a fair shot, and it will come down to who wants it more and who excels at their position.
“The best players will play. I don’t care where you got drafted, I don’t care if you’re an undrafted free agent, I don’t care if you’re old, young, traded, whatever you got there for. Everybody will have an opportunity every day to compete for a job on our roster. Every day. If you want to be on the field, be the best player. Outwork the guy in front of you. Prove your value to us, show you can handle the job, and we’re going to put you on the field and give you an opportunity.”
Andrew Thomas starting left tackle
Andrew Thomas is going to be the starting left tackle week one. He is the best option and has all the skills to play at the pro level. The Giants drafted him to fix their blind side problem and protect second-year quarterback, Daniel Jones. As we all saw, Nate Solder was not at his best last season. I still think Solder will be apart of the offensive line, just at another spot. In 2019, Andrew Thomas was a Walter Camp All-American first team, and winner of the SEC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy, this was Georgia’s first recipient in 21 years!
There’s no question Thomas has the athleticism and skill set to become an All-Pro lineman; having a great offensive line coach is also huge for his development. There is no reason to move Thomas to right tackle, he played both in college but excelled at Left. Coming into the draft, Andrew Thomas was the purest left tackle; the Giants made the right decision with their fourth overall pick.
Will Hernandez starting left guard
Will Hernandez has been a reliable option since he was drafted back in 2018. Since drafted, Hernandez has started in every game (32), talk about a reliable offensive lineman! In 2019, Hernandez’s number of penalties went up (4), more than his rookie year (2). This is something that can be worked on and is not that big of a deal. He played 1067 snaps in 2019, and 1027 snaps his rookie season. The Giants’ offensive line needs a gritty guy like Hernandez, who will do all the dirty work in the trenches.
Spencer Pulley starting center
The New York Giants will have a competition battle at center. For starters, I believe Jon Halapio will be cut from the team; he has sustained too many season-ending injuries. I think the Giants have better options at center, Pulley, Gates, and Lemieux will all battle it out. I feel Spencer Pulley is going to win the starting job. He already has experience playing center, it is his primary position, unlike Gates and Lemieux. In 2019, Pulley only played in four games, he only recorded one penalty and was on the field for 95 snaps. If Pulley happens to get injured and can’t play for the remainder of the season, I want the Giants to give Shane Lemieux a shot at center. Several clips have surfaced of Shane Lemieux practicing snaps during his workouts. I feel like Nick Gates is more of a guard and would rather stay there.
Kevin Zeitler starting right guard
There is no mystery behind this one, Kevin Zeitler will be the starting right guard in 2020. He battled shoulder issues in 2019. If he is healthy, we will see a very productive right guard. I see Zeitler being the leader on the offensive line, a veteran who has a lot of experience in the NFL (eight seasons). He will be a great mentor for the young guys who were just drafted. In 2019, Zeitler started 15 games, he only missed one due to a shoulder injury. In those 15 games, Zeitler averaged 93% of offensive snaps, and only had one penalty all year! All in all, the Giants need Zeitler to be the leader of the offensive line in 2020, I think he has a few more years left to play before Shane Lemieux takes his position.
Nick Gates starting right tackle
In 2020, there will be a battle to see who plays right tackle. Most people think Nate Solder is a starter next season. I think he will come off the bench and be a fill-in type player. I think Nick Gates is the better option right now until Nate Solder can prove he can still protect and be effective in the run game. I think Solder will be a great mentor for the other offensive lineman; the Giants can’t rely on him. The Giants can’t let him play left tackle and be responsible for protecting the blindside. Nick Gates only started three games in 2019, I think 2020 could be a different story, and he could be a starter week one. He did well last season, the Giants’ offensive line was awful, and Gates was the only bright spot some games.