Should the Giants be concerned about their 2nd-year center after rough rookie season?

New York Giants center John Michael Schmitz Jr. (61) before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium
Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Could the New York Giants’ offensive line possibly get any worse? Probably not after the unit surrendered a league-high 85 sacks in 2023. However, an improvement is necessary entering the 2024 season. But the success of the offensive line will depend on the growth of its returning talent, including second-year center John Michael Schmitz.

John Michael Schmitz’s rookie season did not go as planned

Dec 25, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Giants center John Michael Schmitz Jr. (61) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

As a rookie last season, Schmitz struggled to live up to expectations. The Giants’ second-round draft choice last year had “plug-and-play” expectations entering his rookie campaign, but wound up ranking among the NFL’s worst centers.

Schmitz recorded a 41.4 overall Pro Football Focus grade last season, which ranked dead-last among all centers in the NFL. He surrendered 30 total pressures and five sacks and committed four penalties across 755 snaps this past season.

To be fair to Schmitz, he was hampered by an injury throughout the season and even missed four games due to the ailment. However, staying healthy and improving his play will be a major point of emphasis in 2024.

The Giants need JMS to take a step forward

New York Giants center John Michael Schmitz Jr. (61) warms up with New York Giants guard Marcus McKethan (60) before a game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium
Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants’ offensive line is being reshuffled this season. They brought in two new starters on the interior with guards Jon Runyan Jr. and Jermaine Eluemunor. They also have to wait and see with Evan Neal at right tackle. If he can take a step forward this season, he’ll maintain his starting job. But if he continues to struggle, further changes could come.

But finding one starting configuration for the offensive line will be important for Schmitz. He dealt with a revolving door of guards surrounding him last season. Additionally, he suffered at the hands of poor coaching with offensive line coach Bobby Johnson having been fired at the end of the season.

With improved talent around him, improved coaching behind the scenes, and hopefully improved health in 2024, Schmitz should be able to take a developmental step this season. That will be crucial for the Giants as they hope to get early returns on their investment after taking Schmitz in the second round last offseason.

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