What do the New York Giants have in UDFA center Brett Heggie?

brett heggie, new york giants

The New York Giants‘ 2021 NFL Draft class was widely regarded as a slam dunk by fans and analysts alike. However, one consistent criticism with the Giants’ approach to this year’s draft was their failure to address the offensive line. Reportedly, there were linemen on New York’s radar, but the value was not there when the team was picking or the players were selected by teams picking ahead of the Giants.

Now, the Giants will enter the 2021 season with a young, inexperienced, and unproven offensive line. The Giants’ offensive line is by far their biggest question mark on the roster. The New York Giants’ pass-block win rate in 2020, according to ESPN, ranked dead-last in the NFL at 46%. Their run-block win rate ranked 18th at 70%, which is about average or slightly below.

The Giants’ offensive line was one of the worst in the league last year and the front office did not make any improvements this offseason. Walking away from the 2021 NFL Draft without any selected linemen was a questionable decision. But the Giants recognized this fault and made it a priority to sign undrafted rookie Brett Heggie to the roster. But what exactly are the Giants getting in the former Florida Gator? Does he have a shot at making the Giants’ final roster this fall?

Brett Heggie stats and highlights

The New York Giants had a very small three-man UDFA class this year. Brett Heggie out of UF stood out as the lone rookie interior offensive linemen acquired by the team this offseason. Many questions have been raised regarding the interior of the Giants’ offensive line which is set to see Shane Lemieux and Will Hernandez start at the guard positions while Nick Gates starts at center.

Brett Heggie was an interior offensive lineman during his career with the Florida Gators. He played guard from 2017 to 2019 before switching to center full-time in 2020. Heggie earned multiple SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors throughout his collegiate career. Playing in Florida’s high-octane offense feature NFL talents like Kyle Pitts, Kadarius Toney, and Kyle Trask, Heggie was a reliable pass-protector and vicious rub-blocker for the Gators. Check out this clip of Heggie mauling an Ole Miss defensive tackle, moving him like a tackling-sled ten yards downfield:

Brett Heggie won SEC Offensive Lineman of the week during the matchup with Ole Miss. In that game, the Florida offense set a school record for yards against an SEC opponent (642 yards).

New York Giants head coach Joe Judge loves versatility on the offensive line (see Nick Gates, Zack Fulton, and Matt Peart, all players that have contributed at multiple positions along the line). Heggie is another one of those versatile offensive linemen that fit Joe Judge’s mold. He has experience starting games at left guard, right guard, and center.

Brett Heggie’s career projection

Heggie projects as a solid backup at all three interior positions who can come in and allow the offense to function. – Sports Illustrated

According to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, Brett Heggie has the “desired size for an NFL center” and “displays adequate power.” However, Zierlein’s analysis also notes that Heggie has “major protection concerns as a guard” and sometimes “lazy” hand placement. Heggie seems to be a quality developmental piece as a versatile backup offensive lineman that could contribute on the Giants’ practice squad early in his career.

The long-term outlook for Heggie seems to project him as a quality backup, but most draft analysts seem to doubt his potential as a quality starter in the NFL. But given the state of the New York Giants’ offensive line, Brett Heggie seems like a young player that the coaching staff can be excited about and look forward to developing.

New York Giants: 3 rookies who could stand out in mini-camp

aaron robinson, new york giants

The New York Giants will be hosting their minicamp this upcoming weekend from May 14 to May 16, which will include 22 players, including six draft picks, three undrafted rookies, and a max of five tryout players. So far, the Giants have already confirmed they will bring 30-year-old receiver Kelvin Benjamin in for a workout, kicking the tires on the veteran who was formally a Dave Gettleman draft selection years ago.

However, the Giants have a few stellar young players to work with on both sides of the ball from their most recent draft class, but there are a few undervalued options who could make an impact in their first year in the NFL. Let’s take a look at a few prospects who might have an extended future with the Giants.

Three New York Giants rookies who could stand out in mini-camp:

1.) Elerson Smith

The Giants utilize their fourth-round selection on Northern Iowa edge rusher Elerson Smith. Nobody knew who Smith was before his surprise selection, but he was a Senior Bowl stand-out who showed incredible production in 2019. Smith is a 6’6″, 252-pound pass rusher, who racked up 14 sacks, 14 QB hurries, 21.5 tackles for a loss, five forced fumbles, and two blocked kicks during the 2019 season.

Smith is a superior athlete who had the highest vertical of any defensive end in the 2021 draft class at 41.5 inches.

According to the “Relative Athletic Score” metric, Smith ranked 18th out of 1333 DE’s measured since 1987, showing a superior stature in that category. With sufficient speed off the line of scrimmage, I view Smith as a mismatch rotational option for the Giants this upcoming season. Against heavy-footed offensive tackles, Smith has the speed and power to overwhelm them on the outside or dashing to the interior with jab step moves.

Camp will give us our first look at Smith, and hopefully, he progresses nicely as he looks to add a bit more muscle mass onto his frame but also refine his technique at the next level.

2.) Aaron Robinson

Another exciting young rookie is UCF nickel corner Aaron Robinson, who was formally an Alabama transfer. Robinson is a press, man coverage corner who will push Darnay Holmes in the slot for reps. That should be an exciting position battle between two feisty players.

Robinson isn’t only a stellar football player but is also a great teammate. Head coach Joe Judge pointed out his ability to energize players around him and how he creates positive relationships with his fellow teammates. That is exactly the type of character attribute the Giants are looking for, and it fits perfectly with the structure of their defense and represents the type of player they seem to be attracted to.

I believe Robinson has a bright future ahead of him as a third-round selection, and the Giants were so high on him they felt the need to trade up and snag him before Dallas or Philadelphia could make their move. He’s a player to keep an eye on during camp and could even win the starting job in the slot potentially.

3.) Brett Heggie

The Giants signed UDF Brett Heggie out of Florida, and while he went undrafted, he has some solid, tangible traits to consider as we approach minicamp. Heggie is a 6’4″, 310-pound interior defender with experience at center and offensive guard. Having been teammates with Kadarius Tonye, Heggie has routinely faced off against quality opponents in the SEC. In 2019, he started 12 games, including eight left guard and four at right guard. In 2020, Brett moved to the interior at center, starting all 12 games at the position. He has desirable size for the NFL as a center but lacks functional strength at times and is lackluster with his fundamentals. The Giants likely view his physical traits as potential upside, but he will need extensive coaching to iron out some of his bad tendencies and habits.

While I don’t see Heggie contributing day one, he could be a long-term project and could end up being valuable down the line as a reserve or potential starter at center in the future.