New York Giants: OL specialist says Andrew Thomas has experienced ‘tremendous improvement’ this offseason

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants are preparing their welcome-wagon for 4th overall pick Andrew Thomas in the coming weeks for the start of training camp. Thomas isn’t the same player he was just a few months ago. The Georgia standout has worked hard to increase his strength and fundamentals, further preparing for the NFL and the expected replacement of Nate Solder at left tackle.

Reports have indicated that Thomas could be situated at right tackle in his rookie campaign, as a position battle will force him to earn his way to Daniel Jones’ blind-side. However, the progress he’s seemingly making will give him a leg up on his competition.

Offensive line fundamentals coach Kynan Forney appeared on the Giants Huddle podcast with Paul Dottino and John Schmeelk, raving about Andrew Thomas this offseason.

“I see tremendous improvement in him,” Forney said on the show. “Let’s be clear about this, Andrew is a very smart football player. One thing that I’ve noticed with him is that when I show him something on film … I correct it right there on the field and he’ll see it and he’ll make the correction right then. There’s been some times when he’s blown me away when I say, ‘Hey, look here maybe you not want to flare your elbows back as much because it’s taking too much time, let’s keep them nice and tight.’ Whatever the situation is, as soon as we do the next rep, he corrects it and fixes it. He’s very smart and will correct it. He’s a coach’s dream. He’s a coach’s pleasure. I know the Giants will be very happy with him when they get him coming up this fall. I’m trying to get him ready for Sunday, and he’s very coachable, very smart, and he’s trying to work it.”

The New York Giants are in good shape with Andrew Thomas

These are very encouraging words from the former NFL player in Forney. If Thomas can refine his abilities and improve his pass-sets, there’s a good case for him to lock-down the left tackle spot with ease, despite his size fitting better on the right side.

Thomas has already begun exercising Marc Colombo’s playbook and development plan with coach Forney.

“Going into the season, he’ll be fresher but also too he’s coming to Dash and working on the field and we’re looking at his [tablet] and we’re going through some of the drills that [Giants offensive line coach Marc] Colombo and [assistant offensive line coach Ben] Wilkerson want them to work on and we’re doing those. And also too I’m adding some things in because there’s a lot of stuff that I watch and can see up close that I’ll be like, ‘Hey, you know what, we need to work this a little bit more’ because he might be sliding back into this old habit or, ‘Hey, let’s do this drill’ just because he’s gotten better and we can add something to it. He’s far past that point of where I have to do a whole lot of fundamentals, but I still want to stay on his fundamentals.”

As Forney mentions, Thomas is far beyond the point of basic fundamentals, but continuing to work on them is essential.

Are the New York Giants preparing to take a big risk at the tackle positions?

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants are still rebuilding their entire roster, and after drafting Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick, taking unnecessary risks like putting him at right tackle could be malpractice. You don’t draft a franchise left tackle in the top five picks just to put them at right tackle, despite the fact that some players at the position have started out on the right side in their rookie seasons.

Nate Solder is one of the players that began his career at right tackle, inevitably moving over to the left side. Many players have followed this path, but I don’t believe Thomas should be put in the same situation, as John Schmeelk of Giants.com suggests.

Schmeelk believes that there will be a three-way battle for both left and right tackle between Solder, Cameron Fleming, and Thomas. If the Giants want to maximize their talent, they will move Solder over to the right side where they can plug in their rookie tackle on the left, as developing him and his chemistry with quarterback Daniel Jones is the more efficient move.

Left tackle and right tackle are vastly different

While we mustn’t forget about the traditional methods, the Giants plan on using with new head coach Joe Judge in place, playing Thomas at anything but left tackle could be a massive mistake. Both tackle spots require vastly different sets of fundamentals and technique, and while Thomas has had some experience on the right side, the chemistry he will develop with Jones is essential to the success of the offense.

Paul Schwartz of the New York Post believes giving Thomas the left tackle job would be a mistake, which I wholeheartedly disagree with. His reasoning revolves around Solder, who is entering his 10th season in the NFL and has ample experience at the position. However, you could make the argument that Solder allowed 11 sacks last year and was one of the worst starters at the position in all of football.

I don’t trust him protecting Daniel Jones any longer, as consistent pressure will eventually brew sub-conscious tendencies and habits, similar to how Eli Manning looked like Happy Feet toward the end of his career.

There’s one good reason the New York Giants could plug Thomas in at RT:

The only good reasoning I have seen is from former Giant Pro Bowl center, Shaun O’Hara. He believes Thomas would be better off starting at right tackle to build his character, avoiding the same reality Ereck Flowers experienced. Allowing Thomas to build a skill set on the right side would make him interchangeable, so if he struggles at left tackle, they can move them over to the right side.

“It’s good for a guy like him to come in and, ‘No, you’re not going to left tackle, you’re playing right tackle.’ You got to earn left tackle,'” said O’Hara. “… The worst thing to happen to Ereck Flowers is he started as a rookie at left tackle. Once you start as a rookie, that first year you couldn’t tell him anything, because he had already played. That’s it. He wasn’t listening to anybody.

“It’s good you got a guy in Andrew Thomas that’s still hungry.”

O’Hara states that Flowers didn’t have to earn left tackle, and while that is true, the Giants had been struggling at the position severely and didn’t have a player with at least serviceability on the roster. Just because other players have done it in the past doesn’t mean it works to perfection every time, and I believe Thomas has the tangible and intangible traits to perform well on the left side out of the gates.

Nonetheless, I do understand and recognize that starting his career at right tackle could be beneficial in some way, but I like the upside in chemistry building factor more in his development. The idea of creating a competition is great for culture and makes it known that every position is up for grabs, even if they know Thomas will be the starter in 2020.

New York Giants: Why Andrew Thomas Should Play Left Tackle Right Away

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants invested heavily in their offensive line this offseason. The team spent three draft picks on the offensive line in the 2020 NFL Draft, including the fourth overall pick on a stud left tackle.

The Giants selected Andrew Thomas out of Georgia fourth overall because they believed he was the best left tackle in the 2020 NFL draft class. So why do some argue that he should play right tackle in 2020? He shouldn’t. The Giants should play Andrew Thomas at left tackle right away; here’s why:

Avoid Stunting Andrew Thomas’s Growth

Andrew Thomas is a left tackle. As a freshman at Georgia in 2017, Thomas was an All-American right tackle. But since 2018, Andrew Thomas has started and played all of his games efficiently at left tackle. Why should the Giants move him back to right tackle after Thomas has spent the last two years learning how to protect the blindside?

The Giants have depth at offensive tackle. They can move Nate Solder over to the right side. If Solder’s performance is even worse at right tackle, the Giants can fill either Cameron Fleming, Nick Gates, or maybe even Matt Peart into that position. There is no need to have Andrew Thomas play a position in his rookie season that he will not play for the rest of his career. The Giants should let him get comfortable on the left side and prepare for a long, productive career protecting Daniel Jones’s blindside.

Thomas Already The Best Left Tackle On The Roster

In 2019, the Giants’ quarterbacks rarely had their blindside protected. Left tackle Nate Solder struggled the entire season. Solder allowed 11 sacks according to Pro Football Focus, the third most out of any offensive tackle in the NFL. To make matters even worse, Solder allowed 57 pressures in 2019. This was the most of any offensive lineman in the NFL.

Andrew Thomas will be a rookie in 2020, and being a rookie comes with making rookie mistakes. Regardless of the performance hiccups and learning curve that Thomas will have to deal with, it is hard to imagine him being as bad in pass protection as Nate Solder was in 2019.

Andrew Thomas played 1,075 pass-block snaps in his collegiate career. On those snaps, Thomas allowed only 37 total pressures. He also has not allowed more than 2 pressures in a game since 2017 (his freshman season at right tackle). Granted, Andrew Thomas will be facing tougher competition in the NFL than he did in college. But playing in the SEC, Thomas faced plenty of pro talents and typically dominated in pass protection.

Andrew Thomas might already be the best left tackle on the Giants’ roster. Left tackle is a crucial position on offense and the Giants need to put the best man they have in that position in 2020.

New York Giants: Projected starting offensive line in 2020

New York Giants, Nate Solder, Jon Halapio, Mike Remmers

The New York Giants‘ offensive line is the team’s kryptonite; it has been for the last five years. Finally, the Giants made improvements to the offensive line through the draft and free agency. As a fan, this makes me very happy, protecting Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley is the primary concern. All fans want to see these guys play for eight-plus years. There are a lot of questions that need to be addressed this offseason. Who will start at left tackle? Nate Solder, or Andrew Thomas? Who will win the starting center job, Spencer Pulley, Nick Gates, or Shane Lemieux?

I think the end of the preseason will answer all these questions. Joe Judge and the coaching staff want the best man to win the starting job. All these players are going to get a fair shot, and it will come down to who wants it more and who excels at their position.

The best players will play. I don’t care where you got drafted, I don’t care if you’re an undrafted free agent, I don’t care if you’re old, young, traded, whatever you got there for. Everybody will have an opportunity every day to compete for a job on our roster. Every day. If you want to be on the field, be the best player. Outwork the guy in front of you. Prove your value to us, show you can handle the job, and we’re going to put you on the field and give you an opportunity.”

Andrew Thomas starting left tackle

Andrew Thomas is going to be the starting left tackle week one. He is the best option and has all the skills to play at the pro level. The Giants drafted him to fix their blind side problem and protect second-year quarterback, Daniel Jones. As we all saw, Nate Solder was not at his best last season. I still think Solder will be apart of the offensive line, just at another spot. In 2019, Andrew Thomas was a Walter Camp All-American first team, and winner of the SEC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy, this was Georgia’s first recipient in 21 years!

There’s no question Thomas has the athleticism and skill set to become an All-Pro lineman; having a great offensive line coach is also huge for his development. There is no reason to move Thomas to right tackle, he played both in college but excelled at Left. Coming into the draft, Andrew Thomas was the purest left tackle; the Giants made the right decision with their fourth overall pick.

Will Hernandez starting left guard

Will Hernandez has been a reliable option since he was drafted back in 2018. Since drafted, Hernandez has started in every game (32), talk about a reliable offensive lineman! In 2019, Hernandez’s number of penalties went up (4), more than his rookie year (2). This is something that can be worked on and is not that big of a deal. He played 1067 snaps in 2019, and 1027 snaps his rookie season. The Giants’ offensive line needs a gritty guy like Hernandez, who will do all the dirty work in the trenches.

Spencer Pulley starting center

The New York Giants will have a competition battle at center. For starters, I believe Jon Halapio will be cut from the team; he has sustained too many season-ending injuries. I think the Giants have better options at center, Pulley, Gates, and Lemieux will all battle it out. I feel Spencer Pulley is going to win the starting job. He already has experience playing center, it is his primary position, unlike Gates and Lemieux. In 2019, Pulley only played in four games, he only recorded one penalty and was on the field for 95 snaps. If Pulley happens to get injured and can’t play for the remainder of the season, I want the Giants to give Shane Lemieux a shot at center. Several clips have surfaced of Shane Lemieux practicing snaps during his workouts. I feel like Nick Gates is more of a guard and would rather stay there.

Kevin Zeitler starting right guard

There is no mystery behind this one, Kevin Zeitler will be the starting right guard in 2020. He battled shoulder issues in 2019. If he is healthy, we will see a very productive right guard. I see Zeitler being the leader on the offensive line, a veteran who has a lot of experience in the NFL (eight seasons). He will be a great mentor for the young guys who were just drafted. In 2019, Zeitler started 15 games, he only missed one due to a shoulder injury. In those 15 games, Zeitler averaged 93% of offensive snaps, and only had one penalty all year! All in all, the Giants need Zeitler to be the leader of the offensive line in 2020, I think he has a few more years left to play before Shane Lemieux takes his position.

Nick Gates starting right tackle

In 2020, there will be a battle to see who plays right tackle. Most people think Nate Solder is a starter next season. I think he will come off the bench and be a fill-in type player. I think Nick Gates is the better option right now until Nate Solder can prove he can still protect and be effective in the run game. I think Solder will be a great mentor for the other offensive lineman; the Giants can’t rely on him. The Giants can’t let him play left tackle and be responsible for protecting the blindside. Nick Gates only started three games in 2019, I think 2020 could be a different story, and he could be a starter week one. He did well last season, the Giants’ offensive line was awful, and Gates was the only bright spot some games.

New York Giants: Andrew Thomas’ influence will be far more significant than we imagine

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants could improve at multiple positions because of Andrew Thomas:

When the New York Giants drafted Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, they knew what they were receiving in the left tackle. Thomas had the highest floor of any prospects at the position, making him a potential starter from day one on the offensive line for Big Blue.

There have been many former players and coaches that have advocated for Thomas and his abilities at the next level.

“I didn’t like it. I loved it,” O’Hara told Big Blue View. “Andrew Thomas was No. 1 on my list of left tackles.”

He stated Thomas was “arguably the best left tackle in college football the last two years.”

“I had zero question marks about Andrew Thomas, really. The more I learned about him the more I appreciated how good he was,” O’Hara said. “Two things that jumped out at me on film. I thought he had a really good anchor. You did not see him get pushed back into the pocket when he got a bullrush he could sit it down. … I thought his run-blocking was phenomenal.”

“I literally had no question marks about him.”

Thomas brings a pro-level skill set to the Giants. His ability to hunker down and pass protection and solidify the left tackle spot and move the line of scrimmage and the run game is essential for the success of Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley.

The positive traits the Georgia stand out is bringing to New York are plentiful. He is a bruising tackle with a downhill mindset, matching up well in a man/power scheme. When facing blockers 1v1, Thomas stands out. In addition, he’s always looking for extra work and someone to hit. His incredibly strong and heavy hands allow him to punch pass rushers away and stall them in their tracks. His ability to recover once beat is also a pro of his game, but that doesn’t mean he is void of weaknesses.

Thomas can be caught with his hands high and wide at times, giving pass rushers leverage to move him aside. New offensive line coach Mark Colombo, who is a true disciplinarian and former player, should be able to refine his technique. Teaching Thomas to keep his elbows in and target the inside pad is where he will see the most improvement.

However, Thomas will be beneficial across-the-board, meaning not only Daniel Jones well see an advantage. I believe left guard will Hernandez will also see an uptick in efficiency, simply because his counterpart will be more effective. Nate’s older allowed 11 sacks in 2019, which was the most of any tackle in the NFL. If Thomas can perform at a higher level, Hernandez should see more success. The Giants could certainly use a better protection scheme to provide Jones with more time in the pocket, and Barkley will more running lanes to exploit.

There’s always the possibility that Thomas starts off at right tackle, which would give the Giants the luxury of transferring them over to the left side when Solder and his dead cap decreases exponentially in 2021. The Giants’ first-round pick has experience at right tackle, as he stated several weeks ago after being drafted.

Yeah, at Georgia I started off at right tackle as a freshman and made the transition my sophomore year. I played at left tackle for the next two years. I think that definitely helps. Having experience playing both sides will be something that will be an asset for me.

New York Giants: 3 keys to success for Andrew Thomas in year one

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

Andrew Thomas was drafted fourth overall by the New York Giants in the 2020 NFL Draft. This was not only a safe pick for the Giants but also the best option. Over the past few seasons, the Giants’ offensive line has struggled. It’s about time Big Blue started to focus their draft priorities to the trenches.

Andrew Thomas has the potential to be a top tier offensive tackle in the NFL. For him to achieve this goal, three things need to happen.

Adaptation to pro-level pass sets

To get things straight, there will be a learning curve for Andrew Thomas. The Giants are starting fresh, new playbooks, and a lot of new faces in the organization. It will be a learning curve for everyone in 2020.  This upcoming season will put Thomas’ skill set to the ultimate test. In 2020, the Giants will face some of the best defensive lines in the league.

According to Pro Football Focus, they put together the most valuable defensive lines in 2019. Below are the top four defensive lines from 2019. The Giants will face off against all these teams in 2020. One way for Thomas to learn is to gain knowledge from the best. I want to see Thomas go up against all these defensive lines and their standout players. It will only make him better and will teach him the speed of the NFL. I’m looking forward to the week one matchup, Thomas vs. Wyatt.

New offensive line coach Marc Colombo

The Giants made a lot of moves this offseason. None of them were bigger than the signing of Marc Colombo who was previously with the Cowboys. As we all know, the Cowboys’ offensive line has been a dominant force for the last five seasons. They have always beat up on the Giants and the rest of the NFC East. The tides have turned now, its time for Colombo to help build the Giants’ offensive line.

As a rookie, Andrew Thomas is very lucky to have Colombo. He will be the perfect teacher and mentor for the Georgia standout. As we get closer to the NFL season, Colombo will set up Thomas for success. Even when Thomas struggles, Colombo will help Thomas improve his technique and teach him what moves works best against the best pass rushers in the league. The signing of Colombo is extremely underrated. The Giants’ line needs someone who brings energy and also can teach at the same time. Having been a player himself, he demands respect in the room, and he’s known for his disciplinary style.

The Giants need to have confidence in Andrew Thomas even if he struggles at first

It’s not going to be easy for Andrew Thomas in year one. First off, he is going to have to compete with Nate Solder to win the starting job at Left Tackle. Also, the Giants have a very tough schedule.

Don’t get it twisted, there will be times when Thomas struggles. It is important that the Giants have faith in him and give him fair opportunities to succeed. I expect Andrew Thomas to be a starter from day one, either at left tackle or right tackle.

Thomas is going to be an important player in the Giants’ organization for years. As long as he is healthy, he can become an All-Pro tackle. These three keys to success will help Thomas elevate his game to the next level. I truly believe the Giants made the right draft pick. Only time will tell.

 

 

New York Giants: Could Andrew Thomas start off his career at right tackle?

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

Could the New York Giants swap Andrew Thomas to right tackle? Would it make sense?

When the New York Giants drafted Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, the expectation was that he would fill the starting left tackle position immediately. Replacing Nate Solder as Daniel Jones’s blindside protector, Thomas has the highest floor of any of the prospects coming out of the draft at the tackle position. He has a phenomenal anchor in pass protection and can mirror defensive ends well, he also has the mobility to move to the second level in the run game and the strength to overpower defenders of the line of scrimmage.

However, he is a bit undersized for the left tackle spot and lacks a bit of athleticism compared to third-round pick Matt Peart out of UConn. Peart entered the NFL as a far superior athlete over Thomas, and that spurs the question, could he eventually be the Giants’ starting left tackle?

While Thomas has played predominately left tackle at the collegiate level, his size better fits the right tackle position. Peart stands at 6-foot-7 and 318 pounds. He posted a 5.06 40-yard dash and 26 reps on the bench press at the combine. He “wowed” scouts with his size, strength, speed, and athleticism. While he is a bit more of a developmental piece, his long arms and frame suit left tackle position in the future.

Nonetheless, I do believe the Giants will utilize Peart at right tackle considering Thomas’ draft spot. You don’t normally select a right tackle as high as number four in the draft, but things could shake out differently in the future.

“I would think they’d probably play Andrew Thomas at left,” said Senior Bowl executive, Jim Nagy. “But if you were starting from scratch and where they got drafted from wasn’t an issue, you’d probably put Peart and left and Thomas on the right.”

“Usually you can’t get a guy with starting left tackle ability in the third round, and he’s got that type of upside,” Nagy said. “His feet, his length, he’s done some really good stuff in pass pro. He’s a better athlete than Andrew Thomas.

Joe Judge opened the door for flexibility going into year one under his control:

“Everyone is going to come in on Day 1 and compete and as they shake out,” Judge said. “Whether that demonstrates being a starter at whatever position, that’s where they’ll fall. We went into this with several players we all thought had the ability to go on both sides, right or left. We made a decision that we’re going to let training camp figure that out.

The Giants are in a position to move pieces around if they see fit. While Peart needs at least one year to develop, they will have the adaptability from their players to interchange positions if need be. With that being said, allowing Thomas to gain essential experience with Jones should be a priority, and that’s how I see the offensive line playing out in 2020.

New York Giants: A Greatly Improved Offensive Line?

Will the New york Giants consider right tackle, Andrew Thomas, in the 2020 NFL Draft?

The offensive line has been one of the worst areas of the New York Giants in recent years, but that could change in 2020. The team has made a lot of strides for change in the area in the past few years and some of them have worked out – others have not. Will Hernandez returns as a starter, while Nate Solder so far has been considered an expensive bust. But the Giants have brought in multiple players this offseason to improve the position, and that includes fourth overall pick Andrew Thomas.

As a result of their moves, Pro Football Focus believes the Giants are one of the most improved offensive lines in 2020. On the PFF list, the Giants managed to make it to the number five spot, an impressive accomplishment considering the team’s recent history with the O-line.

5. NEW YORK GIANTS

Key Additions: T Andrew Thomas, T Matt Peart, G Shane Lemieux
Key Losses: T Mike Remmers, C Jon Halapio

It was clear the Giants could use an upgrade at the tackle position after last season. Nate Solder and Mike Remmers combined to allow 96 pressures in 2019, more than any other tackle duo in the NFL. While Solder is locked into the left tackle spot given his contract and the inability to move on without incurring $16 million in dead money, right tackle was a spot that clearly could be upgraded. As the top tackle on PFF’s Big Board, Thomas gives them that.

He came into the SEC as a freshman in 2017 and put up a 76.7 pass-blocking grade. To perform like that as a starting tackle in a conference where he was going up against quality talent on the edge week in and week out is impressive. All Thomas did from that point was improve, earning an 80.6 overall grade in 2018 and a 92.7 grade last season for Georgia. Nearly all offensive linemen struggle in their first season in the NFL, but Thomas has as good a chance as anyone in this class to handle the transition well and provide solid play out of the gate for the Giants. That alone is enough to land them on this list.

Thomas isn’t the only player that was praised by PFF, however. As the article brings out, the Giants also added some depth in Matt Peart and Shane Lemieux at the tackle and guard positions. Depth isn’t something the Giants have had on the offensive line for years, and it helps to have alternative options for when injuries or surprise drops in performance happen. After all, the Giants found out last season just how often injuries can come.

Still, the Giants will have to succeed in games before winning everyone over fully on the subject of their line. It’s easy to get excited in the offseason about additions like these, but previous years have proven that it’s impossible to tell just from stats on paper how such additions will pan out in games.

New York Giants: Projecting the starting offensive line for the 2020 season

New York Giants, Spencer Pulley, Jon Halapio, Nick Gates

Taking a look at the New York Giants‘ offensive line and what the starting unit could look like:

The priority going into the 2020 off-season was to solve the everlasting puzzle on the offensive line. General manager Dave Gettleman was adamant that they would solve the line once and for all, and they undoubtedly allocated the assets toward that goal. The Giants spent three draft picks on bolstering the unit, selecting Georgia left tackle Andrew Thomas, UConn tackle Matt Peart, and Oregon guard Shane Lemieux.

With the insertion of more quality talent and depth, we can expect the line will be more prepared for the upcoming season than ever before. In 2019, the Giants were concerned that Mike Remmers would miss a fair share of the season, as a previous back surgery significantly limited his preseason activity. Nonetheless, Remmers played adequately and proved to be capable in his first year with Big Blue. However, drafting Thomas inevitably moves Nate Solder over to the right side.

When you invest a top-five pick on an offensive lineman, they must be utilized correctly right out of the gate. Allowing Thomas and quarterback Daniel Jones to develop chemistry is essential, meaning Solder must be moved to another position and will likely compete at right tackle. I anticipate this will be his final season, as his dead cap hit will only be $6.5 million in 2021, making him a cut option. If the Giants keep him for the duration of his contract, they will be on the hook for $20.5 million.

The Giants seem to have confidence in third-round pick Matt Peart, who has the tangible traits to develop into a starter and emerge as a quality player at right tackle. If the Giants were able to land both starting tackles in one draft, it will have been considered a home run, more so than it already is.

Here is a look at the projected starting offense of line for 2020:

LT: Andrew Thomas

LG: Will Hernandez

C: Nick Gates

RG: Kevin Zeitler

RT: Nate Solder

At first glance, this is a solid unit with plenty of potential. Undrafted free agent from 2019, Nick Gates, has the skill set to move inside and lock down a position that has been problematic for the Giants in recent years. They can no longer rely on John Halapio or Spencer Pulley to lock down the middle of the line. Zeitler was the team’s highest-rated player on offense in 2019, and his consistency is a necessity for the Giants moving forward. Solder is ultimately the biggest question mark, Having only played right tackle in his rookie season in 2011.

I expect Will Hernandez, a second-round pick for 2018, to take a significant step forward with Solder moving over to the right side — being wedged in-between two inadequate players has hurt Hernandez’s ability to develop and play at the level we know he can. With Thomas and Gates slotted in, Hernandez should be considered a breakout candidate for next season.

The New York Giants’ offensive line is deeper than ever before

New York Giants, Nate Solder, Jon Halapio, Mike Remmers

The priority this off-season for the New York Giants was to finally solve the complicated puzzle that has been the offensive line. Protecting Daniel Jones and opening running lanes for Saquon Barkley is essential for the offense to succeed and play at an elevated level. General manager Dave Gettleman finally invested in the protection of his two most influential draft picks. Ensuring Barkley and Jones have everything they need to succeed should and is the focus for the Giants.

In 2019, Jones endured poor offensive line play which resulted in him being sacked 38 times. Lowering that number and allowing him more time in the pocket is essential for his future production, and taking a step forward in 2020 is the ultimate goal. His statistical output last season was quite good for a rookie who wasn’t expected to play at all with Eli Manning starting week one. Manning was quickly moved to the bench in favor of Jones, who emerged victorious the next two games but failed to string together a winning season.

The 2019 line consisted of:

LT: Nate Solder

LG: Will Hernandez

C: Jon Halapio

RG: Kevin Zeitler

RT: Mike Remmers

This unit ranked as one of the worst in the league, with Solder giving up 11 sacks, ranking second-worst in the category.

Overhauling this section was a requirement this off-season, and the Giants spent the fourth overall pick on Georgia tackle Andrew Thomas. This move subsequently moves Solder over to the right side, where he will compete with Nick Gates and Cam Fleming for the starting position. Paying nearly $20 million for a fringe starter is problematic, but his dead-cap lowers to $6.5 million in 2021, indicating he will likely be let go.

However, adding Thomas alone does not attest to the overhauling of the unit, which is why the New York Giants spent more draft picks to ensure depth at essential positions. In the third round, Big Blue selected Matt Peart out of UConn, who has fantastic tangible skills and the potential to emerge as a starter in the future. In the fifth round, they drafted Oregon guard Shane Lemieux, who has the upside to play center as well. Developing him over the next few months will hopefully see him adapt to different positions and give the Giants another quality guard to work with.

“Versatility is the biggest factor in this game,” Lemieux said, per the NY Post. “Coaches want to be able to put you in multiple spots. I have really good mentors that told me that at training camp, no matter where you are, they are going to throw you in, and you have to be ready. I just want to be prepared before that happened.”

Last season, the Giants only had Nick Gates as their preferred depth piece, but with the added draft capital to the position and signing free agent Cam Fleming, they have plenty of players to work with and move around in case of injury. Hopefully, this will allow them to solidify the offensive front and protect Daniel Jones adequately.