The New York Giants already have their rock on the offensive line

New York Giants, Kevin Zeitler

Continuity on the New York Giants’ offensive line has been difficult to come by. A revolving door at left and right tackle led the team to spend the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft on shoring up the position.

Just two years ago, the Giants featured Ereck Flower at one of the most important positions. Don’t forget about Chad Wheeler and Jamon Brown attempting to hold down the right side.

Since that mess of a protection scheme, the Giants have taken positive steps forward. They attempted to supplement the left tackle position with Nate Solder, which at the time seems like a good idea. Personal issues and a failure to transition from a New England style offense has enabled struggles most didn’t anticipate.

While a majority of the line remains developing, there is one building block that represents consistency.

His name is Kevin Zeitler, and he represents the only positive mark on the line from 2019.

Offensive line coach Paul Alexander, who featured on the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast had great things to say about Kevin Zeitler:

“He is the team leader that you want. I’m going to be honest with you, when we let him go with the Bengals, which I was furious about, that hurt us. And it hurt Cleveland when he left there. To me, I thought that was a great pickup by the Giants.

“He’s the type of guy that you build a championship around. He’s a winner.”

”Kevin Zeitler should be a Pro Bowl player. He plays at an elite level. He’s big, strong, tough, very productive, excellent technician, very dependable… He is the team leader that you want.”

According to PFF, his first season with the Giants was his best to date. He was the highest-rated pass-blocking guard with a 91.7. In his eight seasons in the NFL, Zeitler’s past-blocking grade has landed in the top-15 seven times among qualifying guards.

At the very least, the Giants know they have a stud at right guard. However, it takes a lot more to achieve continuity in the trenches. The drafting of Andrew Thomas should help to some degree, and I believe we will see an improved unit in 2020.

New York Giants: What Will The Starting Offensive Line Look Like In 2020?

New York Giants, Nate Solder, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants have had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL over the past few years. The team has struggled to find consistent offensive tackle play since investing a top-ten pick in Ereck Flowers in 2015. From Flowers to Solder, the Giants have been disappointed by their recent expensive offensive line investments.

New York is hoping that that trend of disappointing offensive line investments ends after this season. This offseason, the Giants invested heavily in their offensive line, drafting three linemen in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Giants also signed an offensive tackle in free agency and significantly upgraded their offensive line coach.

Giants fans are hopeful about their offensive line for the first time in a while. Andrew Thomas was drafted fourth overall, signaling a cultural shift by the Giants towards a more traditional team-building philosophy. The Giants are prioritizing the offensive line and finally, for the first time in years, have depth in the positional group.

Projecting the 2020 Offensive Line

 

  • LT – Andrew Thomas
  • LG – Will Hernandez
  • C – Nick Gates
  • RG – Kevin Zeitler
  • RT – Nate Solder
  • Depth – Spencer Pulley, Shane Lemieux, Cameron Fleming, and Matt Peart
  • OL Coach – Marc Colombo

The Starting Five

The Giants drafted Andrew Thomas to be the team’s left tackle of the future. Some have suggested that Thomas should start his career at right tackle, but in my opinion, Thomas should start at left tackle right away.

Nate Solder allowed 11 sacks in 2019 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 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). It is highly possible that Andrew Thomas is the best left tackle on the Giants’ roster despite never playing a snap in the NFL.

Will Hernandez is entering his third NFL season after taking a small step back in 2019. Big Will looked promising as a rookie but struggled to develop as a sophomore. This could have been for a couple of reasons: Hernandez was playing between two bad players, and the Giants’ coaching staff was one of the league’s worst. Luckily for Hernandez, both of these problems seem to have been fixed. This could be his breakout season.

The center position is by far the biggest question mark on the Giants’ roster in 2020. There will be a positional battle at center during training camp and preseason. In my opinion, Nick Gates is the top candidate for the position. Gates finished the 2019 season with a 77.0 overall grade and only 1 sack allowed in 290 snaps (Pro Football Focus). However, Spencer Pulley could win the job based on seniority and past experience. Gates has never played center before but has been impressive in limited snaps at offensive guard and offensive tackle.

Despite never making the Pro Bowl in his career, Kevin Zeitler has been one of the best pass-blocking offensive guards in the NFL. Also according to Pro Football Focus, Zeitler finished with the sixth-best grade among guards and posted a strong 75.0 pass-blocking grade — the sixth-straight year he’s achieved that mark. Zeitler is a lock for the Giants’ right guard position and should get a contract extension after his contract expires next offseason.

Solid Depth

Nate Solder is likely to move over to right tackle, but if that does not go well, the Giants have solid depth pieces behind him. New York signed Cam Fleming this offseason to be a swing tackle or backup offensive tackle. They also drafted Matt Peart out of UConn in the third round. Peart is not likely to be ready for NFL action in his first season, but he has a lot of potential down the road as a starting offensive tackle.

An Improved Coaching Staff

The hiring of Marc Colombo was huge for the Giants. Colombo has helped maintain the Dallas Cowboy’s offensive line’s status as one of the best in the NFL. Cowboys players have stated that Colombo’s relatability in his youth helped the offensive line grow and gravitate towards its coach.

“I’ve had the pleasure of being around a lot of people in this game. But Marc is in the front of the class. That’s the ultimate compliment I can give him. You get inspired by Marc every day you’re around him.” – Jason Garrett on Mar Colombo via ESPN

 

New York Giants’ Offensive Line Ranked 20th In The NFL By PFF

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

If you ask any New York Giants fan, they will tell you that their team had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL last season. In 2019, the Giants’ quarterbacks were sacked 43 times. However, Pro Football Focus disagrees.

According to PFF, “the Giants weren’t as bad as the perception last season.” The Giants’ offensive line finished 17th in PFF’s regular-season rankings for 2019, which is about average. Now, heading into the 2020 NFL season, Pro Football Focus has ranked the NFL’s offensive lines once again. This year, the Giants rank 20th out of the 32 NFL teams.

Is 20 Too High or Too Low?

The New York Giants did invest a lot into their offensive line this offseason. Dave Gettleman and company spent the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas. PFF had Thomas as the highest-ranked offensive tackle on their draft board. 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).

Andrew Thomas is a significant improvement for the Giants at left tackle. Nate Solder, the man who has played that position for the last two years, had a career-worst season in 2019. Solder allowed a league-high 56 pressures and 11 sacks last season while also ranking just 70th out of 89 qualifiers with a 52.9 run-blocking grade according to Pro Football Focus.

It is surprising that the Giants’ offensive line ranked 17th in PFF’s 2019 rankings despite Nate Solder and Mike Remmers allowing a combined 96 pressures. However, there was a solid performance on the team’s front line that might have boosted the ranking. Right guard Kevin Zeitler continued to be a consistent, reliable offensive lineman. Zeitler earned a 76.4 overall grade ranked seventh of all offensive guards.

The Giants’ other offensive guard, though, did not perform as well. Will Hernandez regressed in 2019 after a promising rookie season in 2018. However, PFF did mention Big-Will as a potential breakout candidate entering his third season.

The center position is arguably the biggest question mark on the Giants’ roster right now. Jon Halapio struggled at that position last season and held the team back significantly. Now, entering 2020, there is a position battle brewing. Spencer Pulley, Nick Gates, and rookie Shane Lemieux will all be competing to earn the starting center job. An improvement at that position could be what puts an end to the Giants’ offensive line struggles.

The Giants have made improvements to their offensive tackle positions and there are reasons to expect a solid outing from the offensive guards in 2020. It is fair for PFF to rank the team’s line at 20th overall at this point, but if there is an improvement at the center position, the Giants could rise through the rankings.

New York Giants: Kevin Zeitler gushes over Joe Judge and Jason Garrett

New York Giants, Kevin Zeitler

The New York Giants turned over their entire coaching staff this off-season after an extremely tumultuous 2019 campaign. The team went 4-12 last season, finishing 3rd in the NFC East and ranking 30th in overall efficiency. The Giants have ranked no better than 3rd in their division since 2016 when they made the playoffs.

Despite players getting into legal trouble, the feeling around the team is improved. New head coach Joe Judge seems to be a disciplinarian who focuses on fundamentals, and while everything is just talk until the regular season comes around, players seem to be appreciating his approach and respect his mentality towards success.

New York Giants’ top offensive lineman, Kevin Zeitler, spoke to how the team is approaching a virtual offseason and his approach toward the new coaches:

“It’s definitely different from the norm, but we were able to take advantage of it,” Zeitler told the Giants Huddle podcast. “We got good work in, our coaches did an excellent job setting everything up where this wasn’t just a waste of time. It was great work and we’re definitely a lot further along than when we started.”

The virtual aspect of this off-season has been problematic to a large degree, as players can’t work out in person, and it leaves them to make poor decisions, considering DeAndre Baker and Aldrick Rosas’ legal troubles.

“He knows where he’s trying to take this team,” Zeitler said of Judge. “He’s going to make sure he emphasizes that. That’s great. That’s what you want in a head coach. I can’t wait to experience it all in person.”

Judge has ample experience on successful teams, having spent the last eight years with the New England Patriots, attending multiple Super Bowls. In 2018, reports indicated that Judge would leave the Patriots to join Josh McDaniels in Indianapolis, but when McDaniels spurned the Colts, Judge stayed put as well.

Now, he has a tall task ahead of him to reinforce a Giants team that has been messy for the past few years. Luckily, he has plenty of talent to work with, and he’s taking over in the midst of a rebuilt. This is his team, and he knows exactly where he wants to take them, which Zeitler attests to.

“I like [Garrett] a lot. He seems like a great guy,” Zeitler said. “He puts [in] great energy. When the offense is together, he has a great focus in getting us to the point of what the meeting is. Great first impressions.”

Garrett spent 13 years with the Dallas Cowboys before excepting an offensive coordinator position with the Giants this off-season. He has called plays, served as a walk around head coach, and helped develop each and every part of the Dallas roster. His work with Tony Romo and Dak Prescott stand out the most, and I believe he will be an influential factor on Daniel Jones’s progression in the NFL.

As for Marc Colombo, who served as the Dallas offensive line coordinator in 2019, Zeitler is excited to get to work with him.

“He’s been great. He’s obviously worked with a lot of good O-linemen, O-line coaches in his career,” Zeitler said. “I like his energy. He’s passionate. I think we’re ready to get to work … He knows there is no time to waste. He’s going to keep the energy up and he’s going to get us going.”

Colombo is known for his disciplinary and intense mentality. Former players have stated their appreciation for Colombo and what he brings to the table. The Giants’ offensive line will be no weak spot, as Colombo will demand grit and toughness in the trenches.

“Overall, everyone is excited,” Zeitler said. “We’re ready to put last year completely behind us. I think we already have. We can’t waste our time about that. It’s all about building up with this new staff, this new experience, and we’re excited to get it going.”

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: Top Three 2021 Pro Bowl Candidates

The New York Giants were one of the worst teams in the NFL in 2019. Despite playing in the biggest market and being one of the league’s most popular teams, the Giants laid a goose egg in Pro Bowl voting. Not a single Giants player made the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl, held in Orlando, Florida.

The NFL recently announced that the 2021 Pro Bowl will be played in Las Vegas. The question now is whether or not any New York Giants players will be in Las Vegas with the rest of the best players in the NFL. That being said, who are the Giants’ top candidates to make the 2021 Pro Bowl?

Saquon Barkley

Superstar running back Saquon Barkley is entering his third NFL season. Saquon put the league on notice in his rookie season, totaling a league-high 2,028 scrimmage yards. Barkley also made the Pro Bowl and won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2018.

2019 was a bit less exciting for Barkley. The Penn State product suffered an ankle injury in Week 3 that kept him sidelined for weeks. Even when Saquon returned from the injury he was not fully himself.

In 2020, a fully healthy Saquon Barkley should have another monstrous season. He had a new and improved offensive line, along with a new offensive coordinator in Jason Garrett. Garrett led the Cowboys offense to numerous rushing titles during his time in Dallas. Saquon Barkley could break out in a major way this season in Garrett’s offensive scheme.

Leonard Williams

One of Dave Gettleman’s most controversial decisions as general manager of the New York Giants was trading a third and fifth-round pick for impending free-agent defensive lineman Leonard Williams. The former New York Jet made the trip to the other locker room and immediately had a significant impact on the Giants’ defense.

“Leonard Williams ranked 11th in total pressures among interior defensive lineman in 2019. Only Williams and two others in the top 20 had fewer than 4 sacks last season. Leonard Williams led the NFL with 19 QB hits, with the 2nd ranked player recording 14.” – Pro Football Focus

Year after year, Leonard Williams has been a great defensive lineman. However, he has only made the Pro Bowl once (2016). If Williams could turn more of those pressures into sacks, he could make his second career Pro Bowl in 2020.

Kevin Zeitler

Kevin Zeitler is one of the best pass-blocking offensive guards in the NFL. In 2019, in 61 combined pass-blocking snaps against Ndamukong Suh, Fletcher Cox, and Kenny Clark this season, Zeitler allowed just one quarterback hurry (PFF). The Giants acquired Zeitler in the Vernon and Odell trade with the Cleveland Browns, and he has been one of the team’s best players ever since.

Also according to Pro Football Focus, Zeitler finished with the sixth-best grade among guards and posted a strong 75.0 pass-blocking grade — the sixth-straight year he’s achieved that mark. Kevin Zeitler provides the Giants with consistent, and reliable pass protection- something hugely important for a young, developing quarterback like Daniel Jones. If the Giants are winning games with an improved offensive line, Zeitler will deserve to go to his first career Pro Bowl in 2020.

New York Giants: Potential Cut Candidates To Free Up Cap Space Next Offseason

New York Giants, Nate Solder

The New York Giants entered the 2020 free agency period with a ton of cap space. The team had around $80 million to spend. And spend it they did. After free agency and the 2020 NFL Draft, the Giants are down to having less than $10 million in cap space for the upcoming season.

So what will the Giants do in 2021? Will they have enough cap space to upgrade their team and resign the likes of Saquon Barkley and others? The Giants are projected to have around $45 million in cap space next offseason. But they could make some cuts to free up even more cap space (stats via Spotrac).

2021 Cut Candidates

Nate Solder

The first and most obvious cut candidate for the Giants’ next offseason is Nate Solder. Solder was a player that some considered to be a cut candidate heading into this offseason. Ultimately, it looks as though the Giants plan on keeping the veteran offensive tackle around for at least another year. But if his play continues to disappoint, cutting Nate Solder in 2021 is a no-brainer. Solder is due to account for 9.81% of the team’s 2021 cap space with a cap hit of $20.5 million. Luckily for New York, Nate Solder’s dead cap is only $6.5 million next year, meaning they can save $14 million if they cut him.

Golden Tate

The Giants could also look to cut Golden Tate. Tate signed with the Giants just last offseason, but his stay in the New York/New Jersey area could be short. Tate is another player who carries a high cap hit next season and might not be living up to his salary (one could argue it either way). Golden’s cap hit in 2021 is at $11 million and his dead cap hit is only $5 million. If Tate’s age catches up with him or he fails to impress for any other reason, the Giants could save $6 million in cap space by cutting him after the 2020 season.

Kevin Zeitler

Another, more surprising name on the offensive line could appear as a cut candidate. The Giants’ best offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler’s contract is structured in a way that makes it very easy to move on from him after this season. That doesn’t mean they should move on from him, but if for some reason Zeitler’s performance bottoms out in 2020, the team could free up a whopping $12.5 million by cutting him. Zeitler’s cap hit in 2021 will be $14.5 million with a dead cap hit of only $2.5 million. Zeitler is only 30 years old, so he could end up getting a second contract with the Giants. But if the team does not consider him to be part of their future plans, they could move on from the former Cleveland Brown after this season.

Projecting What The New York Giants’ Offensive Line Of The Future Will Look Like

The New York Giants completely rebuilt their offensive line in the 2020 NFL offseason. The team hired Marc Colombo to coach the position group after years of success coaching the Dallas Cowboys’ line. They then signed OT Cameron Fleming as a stop-gat right tackle for the 2020 NFL season. After that, the Giants invested heavily in their future offensive line, spending three draft picks on the line in the 2020 NFL Draft.

New York surprised fans by selecting stud left tackle Andrew Thomas with the fourth pick in the NFL Draft. They then drafted two more offensive linemen in the later round of the draft. But those later picks are not expected to start in 2020. Those selections were made with the long-term in mind. But what does that long-term plan look like? In this article, I will project the future of the New York Giants’ offensive line.

What Does The Line Look Like Now?

  • LT – Nate Solder
  • LG – Will Hernandez
  • C – Spencer Pulley
  • RG – Kevin Zeitler
  • RT – Andrew Thomas

The rookie offensive tackle Andrew Thomas is going to be in the starting lineup. The question is, on which side of the line will he play? Will they put Andrew Thomas in at left tackle immediately, or leave Nate Solder in the position he already holds? Solder has admitted he is fine with a position switch, so the two tackle positions could be swapped between now and August. But, if I had to guess, the Giants will likely place Thomas on the right side of the line to start his career, then switch him to the left side once Solder’s contract is off the books.

Will Hernandez was the Giants’ second-round pick in 2018 and has looked the part so far. He did take a slight step backward in 2019, but that could have been caused by a multitude of confounding variables, such as an incompetent coaching staff. Entering his third season with a new, talented offensive line coach in Marc Colombo bodes well for Hernandez’s future at guard for the Giants.

The center position is a glaring weakness on the Giants’ roster. There will be a three-way competition for the starting job in 2020. As a default, though, I plugged Spencer Pulley in at the starting center position. He is the only player on the roster with long-term starting experience at the position and is also the only true center on the roster. He has a good chance of winning the competition because of that.

Kevin Zeitler will man the right guard position again. Zeitler is a rock at that position and is as reliable as it gets. He is easily the best offensive lineman on the Giants at the moment and will continue to be in 2020.

What Will The Offensive Line Look Like In The Future?

  • LT – Andrew Thomas
  • LG – Will Hernandez
  • C – Shane Lemieux
  • RG – Nick Gates
  • RT – Matt Peart

As crazy as it may sound, I genuinely believe Dave Gettleman and the Giants managed to find three future starting offensive linemen in the 2020 NFL Draft class. Andrew Thomas, at a minimum, will be a solid left tackle for years. He is technically sound, played against top-tier collegiate talent, and dominated through all his years at Georgia. The Giants locked down their most important offensive line position for years when they selected Andrew Thomas fourth overall.

On the opposite side of the line, Matt Peart, out of UCONN, was an extraordinary pick at 99 overall in 2020. He will not be ready to start day one, but after some time developing behind the scenes with Marc Colombo, fixing some flaws he possesses, and adding much-needed strength/muscle mass, Peart has the tools to be a starting right tackle in the NFL. He is athletic with very agile feet and already has solid technique. Just a bit of grooming, and he can make an impact as early as next season.

Kevin Zeitler is the best player on the Giants’ offensive line at the moment. But the thirty-year-old guard is only under contract through 2021 and could be pushed out the door sooner than later by the youthful inexpensive options already on the Giants’ roster. Thirty is still relatively young for an offensive lineman, so maybe he sticks around for a second contract with New York, but eventually, he will go, and I think there is a good chance his replacement is already on the roster.

Zeitler’s replacement could be Nick Gates or Shane Lemieux. At the future right guard position, I placed Nick Gates. Nick Gates and Shane Lemieux could end up switching positions, though, with both players being natural guards training to compete for the center position. But I think Gates’s NFL experience at the right guard position gives him the edge. Lemieux is a high-IQ mauler, though, and already understands the importance of positional versatility and will be prepared to move to center if he must.

When looking at the potential of the future offensive line, one trait stands out in particular: youth. These are all young, growing offensive linemen with high ceilings and plenty of work to do to reach their maximum potential. The future of the Giants’ offensive line is in great shape after the 2020 NFL Draft.

The New York Giants Need To See Improvement From Expensive Offensive Line

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

The New York Giants mostly neglected the offensive line in free agency this offseason. They did not involve themselves in negotiations with any of the top offensive tackles on the market like some predicted they would. Instead, New York signed Cameron Fleming to a cheap one-year deal.

This could be the Giants setting themselves up to draft an offensive tackle in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Or it could be that the front office is looking to make more fiscally responsible decisions. The Giants have already invested much money into their offensive line.

23.5% Of The Salary Cap

Believe it or not, the Giants’ most expensive position group is the offensive line. New York has invested $40 million into the offensive trenches, which accounts for 23.5% of the team’s salary (according to NFL on YouTube). The bulk of this expense is divided between two players.

Nate Solder accounts for nearly half of the offensive line’s salary with a 2020 cap hit of $19.5 million (according to Spotrac). In addition to Solder’s massive contract, right guard Kevin Zeitler is also carrying a high cap hit. Zeitler’s 2020 cap hit is $12.5 million (Spotrac).

Nate Solder and Kevin Zeitler’s contracts alone make up $32 million of the $40 million that the Giants have invested into the position group. The Giants are wise to invest so much into a group that is so important. But since they have so much money spent into the offensive line, why is the unit still struggling?

An Expensive And Bad Offensive Line

The New York Giants’ offensive line was one of the weakest units in the NFL despite being one of the most expensive. The Giants’ line allowed 43 sacks and 119 quarterback hits in 2019. Rookie quarterback Daniel Jones was constantly under duress.

Life was not made easy for Saquon Barkley, either. According to Football Outsiders, the Giants’ offensive line had a “stuffed” percentage of 20% (the percentage of runs where the running back is tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage). With so much invested into the Giants’ offensive line, they will need to see significant improvements in 2020. If not, then these players will likely be cut and stripped of their massive contracts.

Kevin Zeitler: New York Giants “Sick of Losing” For Last 3 Years

New York Giants, Kevin Zeitler

When training camp and the regular season come around for 2020, the New York Giants will be expected to have an improved offensive line – one player that will be back from 2019, however, is Kevin Zeitler. The Giants picked up Zeitler from the Browns in exchange for pass rusher Olivier Vernon, and Zeitler was a starter at guard for fifteen out of the sixteen games the Giants played last year.

Thanks to the addition, which gave the team the guard duo of Will Hernandez and Zeitler, the Giants can worry more about the tackle position this year rather than having to address both guard and tackle in the draft and free agency.

However, while it looks like Zeitler has a future with the Giants, his first season wasn’t without hardships. He spoke about that to Sports Illustrated recently, talking about the trade, his first year with the Giants, and what things look like going forward.

“Obviously, my first year here was frustrating. There is talent on the Giants, but it was a very disappointing season overall… We had a bunch of smart football guys with experience on the line, but we were inconsistent in the running game and with our pass protection,” Zeitler said.

One of those players, of course, was Nate Solder – who received a huge contract but despite his past successes with New England, failed to make a big impact for the Giants in his first season with the team. Now it’s debatable whether Solder should even be on the Giants for the 2020 season. The offensive line, however, underperformed in general last season, even outside of that one player.

It’s something that Zeitler seems aware of.

“We have to figure out how to take the next step because last year was no fun, and we know we have to get it turned around fast,” Zeitler continued. “I like all the guys on the offensive line and think we can do great things together, but I don’t know what the plans are. That’s up to the general manager and coaches… The guys on this team are sick of losing the last three years. All we want to do is win.”

Even though it’s not clear yet who the Giants are going to take at the fourth overall spot in the draft, or if they’ll even spend the pick instead of trading down for the first time with Gettleman at the helm, it looks like they’ll come out of either the draft or free agency with at least one big name player to help solve their line problems.

Is that enough to turn things around on its own? Probably not, but if players like Zeitler are to be believed, the Giants are closer than they seem to putting in better performances and adding one or two more pieces could finally see a turnaround.