Taking a look at the New York Giants‘ offensive line and what the starting unit could look like in 2020:
General manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Joe Judge made it apparent that solving the offensive line was their primary focus going into the 2020 NFL Draft, and they stood their ground in the first round by selecting Georgia tackle, Andrew Thomas.
Drafting Thomas puts Nate Solder in a peculiar situation that could result in him swapping sides or losing his position altogether. The Giants also drafted tackle Matt Peart, out of UConn, who’s a tangibly great prospect with the potential to earn a starting role sooner rather than later. Oregon guard Shane LeMieux has also taken snaps at center, which could indicate he could slide into a position battle with Nick Gates, Jon Halapio, and Spencer Pulley.
The Giants' offensive line is getting younger!
Check this out:
Andrew Thomas: 21
Matt Peart: 22
Shane Lemieux: 23
Will Hernandez: 24
Nick Gates: 24
Spencer Pulley: 27
Jon Halapio: 28
Kevin Zeitler: 30
Nate Solder: 32
The future is clear (hopefully)!
— Alex Wilson (@AlexWilsonESM) May 12, 2020
Nonetheless, here is a projected offensive line unit for Big Blue:
Left Tackle: Andrew Thomas
The New York Giants didnâ€™t draft Andrew Thomas to sit on the bench or play right tackle; they expect him to slide in at left tackle immediately, despite what head coach Joe Judge might say about the situation. Developing the chemistry between Thomas and Daniel Jones must be a priority, as they are the future of the team and offense. Thomas is a gritty lineman who can anchor down in both the pass and run game. He had the highest floor of any tackle prospect in the draft, but his ceiling is also exciting. I fully expect him to be the starting left tackle by week one of the regular season.
Left Guard: Will Hernandez
Hernandez regressed a bit in 2019, mainly because Nate Solder and Jon Halapio were playing alongside him. He wasnâ€™t given much support at guard and suffered because of it. With Thomas and a new center likely filling in for the consistently injured Halapio, we can expect the third-year player to have a successful 2020 campaign. He undoubtedly needs to show his toughness and ability this upcoming season, and he finally has the pieces in place to play his best football.
Center: Nick Gates
The Giants are looking to create a position battle at center, with Halapio, Spencer Pulley, Shane LeMieux, and formally undrafted Nick Gates. I believe Gates is the best fit for this position, having practiced at center this off-season. He showed potential at guard and tackle, two vastly different positions but adaptability shined. I believe he can overcome the obstacles and cement himself as a starter in the middle of the offensive line, which would help the Giants tremendously in a quest to solving the puzzle.
Right Guard: Kevin Zeitler
Zeitler is a sure-fire starter for the New York Giants, having been their best guard and lineman in 2019. At 30 years old, Zeitler is still in his prime and playing at an elite level. According to PFF, he allowed three sacks and committed just two penalties last season.
Right Tackle: Nate Solder/Matt Peart
The right tackle position will be a bit of a conundrum for the Giants moving forward. They drafted Matt Peart in the third round and still have Nate Solder and his astronomically high cap hit on the team. I believe they will swap Solder over given his experience, but Peart could earn starting reps sooner rather than later. I anticipate he will utilize the 2020 season for his development and eventually take over at 2021.
However, Solder struggled significantly last season and cannot be trusted. Cutting him doesnâ€™t make much sense considering his dead cap-hit, but having him on the roster as a backup or as their starting right tackle will suffice for now.