Priority number one for general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll is to rebuild the New York Giants‘ offensive line this off-season. With nine draft selections at their disposal, they have plenty of capital to spend and resources to allocate at tackle and guard.
However, the Giants have -$12 million in salary space available, making it that much more difficult to be active in free agency. With $92 million available in 2023, management could elect to kick some cash down the road for new players, which is necessary given the roster’s state. Considering they can release Leonard Williams after the 2022 season and save approximately $18 million, we should expect them to spend a bit of cash this off-season despite the constraints.
Rebuilding the New York Giants’ offensive line through FA and the 2022 NFL Draft:
LT: Andrew Thomas
The Giants already have their established left tackle in Andrew Thomas, who gave up just two sacks, three QB hits, and 13 hurries last season. Thomas elevated his play to another level compared to his rookie year, where he gave up double-digit sacks.
Thomas recently underwent a second ankle surgery after undergoing a similar fate at the end of the 2020 season. Considering he played at such a high level on a bum ankle is quite impressive, and if management can pair him with a quality guard on the left side, the Giants could shore up Daniel Jones’s blind spot for the foreseeable future.
LG: Laken Tomlinson
One of the more attractive free-agent options on the open market is Laken Tomlinson of the San Francisco 49ers. At 30 years old, the former Duke guard will be a hot commodity, but the Giants could view him as a key puzzle piece.
Tomlinson is coming from a quality 49ers team that dominates in the running game. However, last year, Tomlinson was also an above-average pass-blocker, giving up two sacks, seven QB hits, and 15 hurries. Tomlinson would be a perfect fit next to Andrew Thomas with a strong frame and anchor, especially if the Giants plan to be a more pass-heavy team.
A three-year deal worth $30-35 million might get it done, but the Giants would have to push the cap hit to next year, which is sustainable given how many contracts are expiring after the upcoming season.
C: Ben Jones
The Giants only have so much draft capital to spend this off-season, but one underrated player who might come at a price-efficient cost is Tennessee Titans center Ben Jones.
Jones allowed one sack, seven QB hits, and 18 hurries last season at 32 years old, but as a former fourth-round pick out of Georgia, he could fit the bill nicely with what the Giants are trying to build. Jones is an experienced center who played exceptionally well at the end of last season for Tennessee, giving up three QB hits in his last six games combined.
Having a good center is essential, and if the Giants aren’t confident they will land Tyler Linderbaum out of Iowa, Jones represents a solid replacement for Billy Price and the injured Nick Gates.
RG: Zion Johnson
The Giants look to the NFL draft to solve their problems at right guard. In fact, the right side will be composed mainly of rookies in this rebuilding scenario. Johnson is coming out of Boston College at 6’3″ and 316 pounds. Johnson could fit well in the trenches under Daboll and Kafka’s leadership with an aggressive mentality and physical nature.
Johnson will likely be available in the second round representing a plug-and-play guard. He will need consistent reps to gain confidence and improve his play, making having an experience center much more important.
RT: Ikem Ekwonu
The Giants use one of their top pics to land Ikem Ekwonu out of NC State. Ekwonu is a dominant run blocker with distinctive physical traits. He’s not as refined in pass protection, but he has the upside to be a Pro Bowl tackle in the NFL. At 6’4″ and 320 pounds, not only does Ekwonu have phenomenal size, but he has tremendous length and athleticism, coming from a family of athletes.
Replacing Nate Solder with Ekwonu would be a home run, and considering he’s taken significant steps forward in his development every season at the collegiate level, the Giants know he’s coachable and ready to make the jump. Most of the top tackles in the draft class are projected as LTs, but the Giants will need to transition one to the right side with Thomas already cemented.
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