The New York Giants tried their hardest to rebuild their offensive line last offseason. They drafted three hog mollies in the 2020 NFL Draft, including offensive tackle Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick in the first round. Despite these efforts, the Giants’ offensive line was still one of the worst in the league last season.
The New York 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.
Entering 2021, the team has not made many positive changes to the line to improve the unit. They cut their best lineman, veteran right guard Kevin Zeitler, and failed to replace him. Not a single offensive lineman was drafted by the Giants in the 2021 NFL Draft, and the only lineman they signed in free agency was a replacement-level starter in Zack Fulton. However, the team is getting Nate Solder back this year after he opted out of the 2020 season.
Most fans and analysts have a bleak outlook on the Giants’ offensive line heading into this season. But there are reasons for optimism. In particular, the Giants’ young duo of offensive tackles from the 2020 NFL Draft should bring the team some hope as they potentially take over as starters this year and improve the unit’s performance level.
Andrew Thomas solidified at left tackle
The Giants have a serious breakout candidate for the 2021 NFL season in their second-year left tackle Andrew Thomas. There was a lot to like in Thomas’s 2020 rookie campaign, however, there were plenty of struggles throughout the year that held him back. Andrew Thomas allowed 10 sacks, the most of any tackle in the league last season. But after allowing three or more pressures in eight of the Giants’ first eight games in 2020, Andrew Thomas allowed three or more pressures in only three of the Giants’ last eight games (PFF).
Could Nate Solder return as right tackle?
Andrew Thomas is the Giants’ starting left tackle this season, no question. What has been questioned, though, is who will start at right tackle? Some fans think veteran Nate Solder should return to the starting lineup. The Giants signed Solder to a record-breaking contract in 2018. He started at left tackle for two seasons before opting out last year. Solder never really lived up to the expectations of his contract, giving the Giants below-average play at left tackle for two years.
Solder could potentially bounce back at right tackle this season. But there are factors working against that situation becoming a reality. Firstly, Nate Solder is 33-years-old and has not played football in over a year. Secondly, Nate Solder played right tackle for one year as a rookie in 2011. Since then he has played left tackle every year. Can you teach an old dog new tricks?
Why Matt Peart should be the Giants’ starting right tackle
For these reasons, many fans believe the Giants should roll into 2021 with a young starting offensive tackle duo. That is where second-year tackle Matt Peart comes into the equation. Peart was drafted in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the second tackle that the Giants selected in his class. Peart was limited playing time in 2020, but he did impress when he was on the field.
Matt Peart was meant to finish the season as the Giants’ starting right tackle, but injuries kept him off the field as a starter. Instead, the Giants rotated Peart onto the field to give him some game experience.
According to Paul Schwartz of the NY Post, the New York Giants coaching staff “is high on Matt Peart, who will be given the first shot at the starting right tackle job.” Matt Peart was impressive as a rookie, albeit in a small sample size. Peart played 150 snaps for the Giants’ offense in 2020. Ten of those snaps came in jumbo formations where Peart lined up as a tight end. 37 of those snaps came at left tackle. The other 103 snaps came at right tackle.
Ultimately, New York decided that Matt Peart is their right tackle of the future. Peart posted a 69.7 overall Pro Football Focus grade as a rookie, allowing only 9 pressures on 84 pass-blocking snaps. He did not see any time as a full-time starter in 2020, but that will change in 2021 as Matt Peart assumes the starting right tackle position. The Giants are confident in what they have at both right and left tackle. The young duo of Matt Peart and Andrew Thomas should be the bookends on the Giants’ offensive line for a long time.