New York Giants: Why Andrew Thomas is a breakout candidate in 2021

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas
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The New York Giants invested a plethora of assets into their offensive line last offseason. However, these investments have yet to pay off as the Giants possess one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines. 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.

The Giants’ biggest investment into the offensive line last season was their first-round draft pick. New York spent the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft on Georgia left tackle Andrew Thomas. In his rookie season, the Giants did not exactly receive the return on their investments that they had hoped for. Thomas struggled greatly as a rookie while other first-round offensive tackles from the 2020 impressed and established themselves as quality starters. Still, the Giants have a lot relying on Andrew Thomas entering 2021, and there are reasons to believe he will turn it around and breakout this season.

Why Andrew Thomas could breakout in 2021

In his rookie 2020 campaign, Andrew Thomas allowed 10 sacks, the most of any tackle in the league. He struggled greatly in pass protection, causing many to second guess the Giants’ first-round draft choice. However, there are still reasons to believe that Andrew Thomas is a franchise left tackle. His improvements in the second half of the 2020 season are encouraging and could foreshadow a breakout 2021 season.

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). Andrew Thomas earned just one PFF pass-blocking grade below 59.0 over the second half of the season, whereas every single outing before Week 8 fell below that mark. Outside of one disastrous game against Arizona, his pass-blocking grade was above 70.0 from Week 8 onwards (PFF).

Andrew Thomas’s ability to improve his play over the second half of the season is especially impressive considering the terrible circumstances he was dealing with. The Giants’ offensive line had no continuity last year. Will Hernandez started the first eight games next to Andrew Thomas at left guard, then Shane Lemieux started the second eight games at that position. Additionally, the Giants fired offensive line coach Marc Colombo midseason. A midseason coaching change is always a difficult challenge to overcome, but even moreso for a rookie offensive tackle playing injured.

Andrew Thomas had ankle surgery after the 2020 season wrapped. Thomas’s ankle injury had bothered him for a while and he managed through the pain to finish the season. But the injury was something that hindered Andrew Thomas’s performance last season and needed to be taken care of this offseason. Looking ahead to the 2021 season, Thomas will be healthy and better coached. He finished the 2020 season strong despite playing injured. There is no reason why Andrew Thomas cannot breakout in 2021 and prove himself to be a worthy top-ten pick.

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