Technique can oftentimes be the difference maker between a bad and good offensive lineman. For the New York Giants, they are experiencing those woes with fourth overall pick Andrew Thomas this season.
The rookie entered the NFL with more refined talent and heightened expectations, but he hasnâ€™t been able to live up to those so far. His technique has completely gone out the window, as many analysts have pointed out over the past few weeks. The player he once was a Georgia no longer exists, and whatever the Giants are doing behind the scenes to correct these problems simply isnâ€™t working.
Thomas was known for his dominant style of play in the run game, and heâ€™s gradually improved in that category over seven weeks. Still, his pass blocking continues to be problematic, as he graded out with a 32.5 against the Philadelphia Eagles in week seven. He has an average 43.8 overall pass grade, according to PFF.
A simple disconnect between his feet and hands are a primary source behind his issues, as well as over-shooting his assignments, as offensive line coach Marc Colombo noted several weeks ago.
This is unacceptable… Thomas gets smoked and blows this play up, Montez Sweat beats him with ease. pic.twitter.com/1CzIrhIKxt
— Alex Wilson (@AlexWilsonESM) October 18, 2020
Thomas is jumping out of his stance and not cradling his opponent and mirroring their tactics. Heâ€™s shooting his hands like a machine gun and not corralling, as he once did with Georgia. Developing these bad habits has shown on game tape, and Colombo is aware that the young tackle is struggling immensely, and these problems need to be corrected.
One former player believes the New York Giants took a big risk with Thomas:
â€œAndrew Thomas was the most risky,â€ perennial Pro Bowl OL Joe Thomas told the New York Post. â€œWith an offensive linemanâ€™s eye, you look at him right away and say, â€˜He has a lot of room to grow, and he needs a ton of work and reps.â€™ [Others] were basing it on accolades not game film, playing in the SEC and tons of starts. He checked a lot of the boxes that typically have not failed for offensive tackles, but then you watch the tape and clearly see biomechanically he doesnâ€™t match up to those other guys.â€
It is clear that Thomas didnâ€™t pass the eye test for many former pros, but he represented fantastic upside, which is why the Giants took a stab at him. The problem is, taking a stab at the fourth overall pick is simply unacceptable.
â€œWhen I watched Andrew, I saw a guy with a lot of potential â€” great athlete, big, strong, fast, moves extremely well, all the things that get you to be a top-15 draft pick as an offensive tackle,â€ Joe said. â€œBut he was the least natural from a technique standpoint. If you watch offensive linemen, when they get in a bad position â€” because they eventually will â€” can they recover? That was the big thing that concerned me with Andrew.â€
Joe Thomas hits on a few of the reasons people were so high on the Georgia stand out. His athletic ability is premium and something to build around for solid coaches. He is far from being called a bust, and the Giants have time to continue developing him and working his way out of these weaknesses. However, Thomasâ€™ inability to recover in pass blocking has been a crisis, and getting beat inside is a cardinal sin for lineman â€” something he has struggled with.
â€œHe gets his shoulder pads way out over his toes a lot,â€ Joe Thomas said. â€œYou see him bending at his waist. Heâ€™s got to learn to be an ankle- and a knee-bender, which takes time. He leaned on guys a lot. You could see the quickness in his feet, but he wasnâ€™t natural in reacting to the defense. You get away with a lot of that playing in college when you are a bigger, stronger, more athletic version of the guy you are going against.â€
It is clear that teams target Thomas on passing plays, exploiting his weaknesses that are showing up on film. This seems to be hurting his progression and forcing him back into old habits on a weekly basis.
Honestly, giving third-round pick Matt Peart a chance and sitting Thomas for a few weeks to develop his technique and give him some cushion might be a solid idea.