The New York Giants overhauled their offensive line this offseason. Former assistant GM for the Buffalo Bills, Joe Shoen, is now the top dog in East Rutherford, but the course of this rebuild will take time to develop.
The Giants are seemingly on the right path, but we won’t know just how far along they are until the regular season begins. One of the biggest position battles developing during training camp will be left guard.
Third-year player Shane Lemieux, rookie Josh Ezeudu, and veteran Max Garcia will be competing for starting snaps.
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Let’s take a look at the Lemeiux and Ezeudu and what they bring to the table:
Lemieux enjoyed 504 total snaps during the 2020 season as a rookie out of Oregon. The former fifth-round pick allowed five sacks and 25 pressures as a starter, ranking as one of the league’s worst pass-blocking guards. As a run blocker, he had some decent moments but was otherwise underwhelming across the board.
In 2021, Lemieux suffered a partially torn patellar tendon which ended his season prematurely. He played just 17 snaps in Week 1 against the Denver Broncos before leaving the game. With such a small sample size of reps in 2021, Lemieux has a long way to go before he establishes himself as a legitimate starter in the NFL. Coming off a serious knee injury and an awful rookie campaign, the only direction is up for a 25-year-old guard.
Alternatively, the New York Giants could look in the direction of Josh Ezeudu. At 6’4″ and 308 pounds, Ezeudu projects as a good backup with the potential to become a starter. As the Giants’ third-round pick, they clearly see a ton of value in Ezeudu, who has experience at both guard and left tackle.
The UNC product has all the talent in the world, especially in the tangibles category. However, he needs a ton of refinement with his hand usage and connecting his feet. A great frame and above-average athleticism suggest he could easily steal the starting left guard spot, but it all depends on how quickly he develops his technique.
Good coaching will go a long way in developing Ezeudu into a quality offensive lineman. Given the experience Lemieux has right now, he could have the edge to land the starting spot. However, we haven’t even mentioned Max Garcia yet, who blows both of them away in the experience and overall quality categories.
Garcia was a Pro Bowl alternate last year, earning stellar grades to open the year in pass-blocking. He gave up five sacks and 20 pressures over 864 offensive snaps. The season was inconsistent after Week 7, but he will be a far better pass-protecting guard than the options Big Blue featured in 2021. Overall, Joe Schoen did a solid job piecing together a new line, despite significant salary cap limitations.