New York Giants: Could rookie Joshua Ezeudu steal the starting left guard position?

joshua ezeudu, new york giants

The New York Giants have a position battle brewing this summer. There are a number of players contending for the starting left guard position. As OTA’s kicked off, the Giants gave a first glance at their starting offensive line during team drills. Thus far, Shane Lemieux has been penciled in as the starting left guard. But is this a position that rookie third-round pick Joshua Ezeudu could steal?

Joshua Ezeudu could compete for the starting position. However, Shane Lemieux and Max Garcia are two established veterans that are also vying for the first team. Despite the experience and credibility of those two players, the talent that Ezeudu possesses is undeniable. Joshua is a raw prospect that needs development, but he could sneak his way into the starting lineup with a successful summer of practices.

Could Joshua Ezeudu be the Giants’ starting left guard in 2022?

With the 67th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected UNC offensive guard Joshua Ezeudu. This was the second offensive lineman taken by the Giants in this year’s draft after they landed Evan Neal in the first round. Ezeudu differs from Neal in position, though. Drafting Evan Neal solidified the right tackle position for the Giants and drafting Joshua Ezeudu provided the Giants with a talent to develop at left guard.

Joshua Ezeudu is described by The Draft Network as, “an aggressive blocker that has ideal temperament in the run game.” They add that he “does well to frame blocks, stay square and absorb power” in pass protection. TDN believes that Ezeudu will be a versatile backup as a rookie but has the upside to turn into a starter as early as his second or third season.

While that very well could be the case for Ezeudu, there is also a possibility he wins a starting job this summer. Neither Max Garcia nor Shane Lemieux are lock-in starters at this point. Joshua Ezeudu gave up a total of 32 pressures and 2 sacks in his four-year career (PFF). He showed flashes in pass protection but really excelled as a run-blocker.

Joshua Ezeudu posted a 83.0 run blocking grade in 2021 (3rd among ACC Guards) per PFF. On tape, Ezeudu has quick feet and a strong upper body that turns him into a people-mover in the running game. Refinement is needed, but do not count Joshua Ezeudu out of the race just yet. With a summer of strong practices, the New York Giants’ third-round pick could find himself in a starting position.

Giants’ OL coach Bobby Johnson details players with ‘PTSD’ from former coaching staff

bobby johnson, giants

Reflecting on past coaching philosophies and methods will bring up some bad memories for New York Giants players. Extreme physical consequences and lap running were a part of Joe Judge’s disciplinary style. That was meant to hold each individual accountable for their actions. However, it ended up rubbing a lot of the coaches and players the wrong way.

That specific method wasn’t the only negative philosophy used in the previous regime. In fact, new offensive line coach Bobby Johnson indicated that he is still seeing “PTSD” and poor identity constructs that have impacted the players’ ability to develop and grow in the NFL.

“Those are all extreme words,’’ Johnson said Thursday, per the New York Post. “I would say this: I did notice a sense of, in this profession whether you’re a coach or a player you have things that we call scar tissue or, not to make light of the situation, some PTSD over things that have happened to you that shape your identity or shape your philosophy, and there’s some guys I’ve interacted with that have had that, because of things that have happened in the recent past.’’

The Giants have plenty of scar tissue after years of inept and disruptive decision-making from the coaching staff and upper management. Finally, the team seems to be in a better place with the modernizing of the front office, thanks to general manager Joe Schoen.

The New York Giants have a tough road ahead, but progress is all we need to see:

The team has a long way to go, but Johnson’s words stand out as a significant hurdle they need to overcome. Players still have scar tissue left from the past, whether that be poor practice habits or rehabilitation.

Looking at the offensive line specifically, the Giants have featured one of the worst units in football the past few years. They are looking to take a step forward with Evan Neal at right tackle and Mark Glowinski at right guard. Andrew Thomas somehow managed to escape the clutches of the former regime, excelling in 2021 and showcasing Pro Bowl level quality.

There is a long journey ahead for the offensive line to become a competent unit. At the very least, they’ve injected new talent that can overhaul the mentality in the trenches. Johnson mentioned this week that he wants aggressive players. If you’re not on the field, he will find somebody to take your spot.

The shift in philosophy will do the Giants well, providing more aggression and physicality upfront. That will directly affect Daniel Jones’s performance in the pocket.

At the end of the day, the team desperately needs to evaluate Jones in a better system. Johnson will plan an instrumental role in preparing the OL for the 2022 season.

Giants’ new offensive coaches are developing a new Daniel Jones, but is it too little, too late?

daniel jones, nyg, giants

“Turn it loose,” New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll said regarding Daniel Jones being aggressive within the newly installed offense.

“There’s going to be things that happen in every game. The defense is going to make a good play, there might be a tipped ball. We’re going to have to do a good job of taking care of the football, but I want him to turn it loose.”

One thing is for sure, the Giants certainly haven’t let Jones be himself on the football field. In fact, it’s almost seemed as if the coaching staff was controlling him like a robot, forcing him to stare down specific reads.

Every elite quarterback has a healthy blend of instinctual decision-making and the proper reading of progressions, understanding opposing defenses. The Giants did very little to help Jones gather knowledge before the snap last season, running pre-snap motion at 7.5% when other modern offenses were hitting +20%.

The New York Giants are modernizing, but it takes time to build:

The Giants are expected to feature a far more potent offense when it comes to a pre-stop motion and gathering information before the snap. That should help Jones decipher coverages and progress through his reads more efficiently. New offensive coordinator Mike Kafka has already started to see the type of work ethic that Jones brings to the table.

“He’s a smart kid,’’ Kafka said. “He works hard. Those are all things that I had heard about him, but being able to see it in person has been great. Right now, just developing that relationship with him is the most important thing, and out here in practice seeing him operate, seeing him communicate with the players and how he talks to each and every group has been really cool.’’

The new coaching staff has slowly developed relationships with the fourth-year quarterback, but that doesn’t mean his job isn’t on the line. The Giants recently declined Jones’s 5th-year option, making the 2022 season ever more important for his legacy in New York. When he was drafted back in 2019, the hope was that he would replace Eli Manning and develop into a franchise-caliber quarterback, but that reality hasn’t come to fruition.

“That was certainly out of my control, out of my hands, and that’s the business part of it. I understand that. My job is to prepare to play as well as I can, help the team win games, and that’s certainly what I’m focused on.’’

Jones has managed to stifle the negative thoughts that accompany your team abandoning the fifth-year option, but he still has an opportunity to rewrite the story and earn an extension.

Jones is impressing thus far in practice:

So far, during OTAs, Jones has shown his veteran leadership and ability to consume knowledge and replicate it on the football field.

“He’s absorbing it, and he’s able to spit it back out, get guys fixed and cleaned up on the field,’’ Kafka said. “Those are things I’m looking for just out of the gate, getting guys lined up correctly, getting the huddle, sharp, crisp. Those are things that are important for pre-snap stuff.’’

A far more advanced offense is being installed; Jones will have to learn how to be a modern quarterback. Jason Garrett has completely stifled Jones’s development and growth the last few seasons, setting him back years.

The Giants desperately need to find out what Jones can accomplish this upcoming season. The cards are stacked against him with a new offensive line and system. It is going to take a monstrous effort to convince management he can be the future of the team, but it is not impossible.

A first glance at the Giants’ starting offensive line during OTAs

evan neal, giants

The New York Giants have kicked off OTAs, giving fans and analysts a first glimpse at their rebuilt offensive line. The offensive line has been a weak point for the Giants over the course of the past several seasons.

Recently, though, they have begun to make improvements. 2020 first-round pick Andrew Thomas started to shine in his 2021 sophomore season. This year the Giants spent another first-round pick on the offensive line, selecting Alabama tackle Evan Neal at seven overall. These two, combined with a few other new additions, are giving fans hope for the future.

The Giants’ first-team offensive line at OTAs

According to the reporters, today’s first-team offensive line during team drills was as follows:

  • Left tackle: Andrew Thomas (Korey Cunningham filled in as Thomas works back from injury)
  • Left Guard: Shane Lemieux
  • Center: Jon Feliciano
  • Right Guard: Mark Glowinski
  • Right Tackle: Evan Neal

The names are mostly what was expected. However, Shane Lemieux stands out on this list as a pleasant surprise. The 2020 fifth-round pick was a starter on the Giants’ offensive line last year before going down with a season-ending injury. This left the Giants with a revolving door at left guard position that could turn into a camp battle this summer. Shane Lemieux received the first start at OTAs, but he has competition. Behind him are veteran Max Garcia and rookie Joshua Ezeudu. Considering Lemieux’s inconsistency in the past, it is very possible for Ezeudu and Garcia to challenge him for the starting job.

Offensive line practice recap

The Giants threw their two first-round rookies right in the mix today, having Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal participate in team drills with the first team. According to Jordan Raanan of ESPN, Evan Neal “more than held his own” while practicing as the starting right tackle. The Giants have high hopes for the 6-foot-7, 351-pound mammoth-man that they selected in the first round.

Left tackle Andrew Thomas wore a red shirt today and “only participated sparingly in some drills” as he works back from ankle surgery (Raanan). Nick Gates and Matt peart also worked on the sideline in red jerseys as they recover from serious injuries.

Jone Feliciano is taking over as the Giants’ starting center this year. He has familiarity with the coaching staff as a former Buffalo Bills offensive guard. The Giants’ new offensive line coach, Bobby Johnson, shared his nickname for Feliciano: “Dirtbag.” Johnson explained the term of endearment, saying, Feliciano plays football like a dirtbag, and all of his offensive linemen need to play that way, or they will not play at all. Expect to see Jon Feliciano act as the leader on the offensive line who brings a real mean streak.

Mark Glowinski is the presumed penned-down starting right guard on the New York Giants offensive line. The Giants signed Glowinski to a three-year deal giving him an over $6 million salary on average annually. This was arguably the Giants’ biggest splash-signing in free agency this year. Glowinski is an established veteran who performed well in the past for the Indianapolis Colts. No surprise seeing Glowinski with the first team.

A revamped Giants offensive line

The New York Giants’ offensive line looks drastically different than it did a year ago. The Giants’ line is younger and features more established talent than it has in recent years. If this new front line can live up to expectations, that could pave the way for a successful season from Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley.

Giants News: Analyst points out specific Oklahoma UDFA to pay close attention to

jeremiah hall, giants

The New York Giants have brought in a ton of undrafted free agents to work out of the next few weeks as the off-season program ramps up. However, CBS analyst Emory Hunt pointed out Jeremiah Hall of Oklahoma as a potential standout this summer.

What does Jeremiah Hall bring to the New York Giants?

Hall is an intriguing player coming from Oklahoma, appearing in 13 games as a senior in 2021. Playing mostly full back and tight end, Hall picked up 334 yards and four touchdowns last season. He also tallied 25 yards on the ground and a score. He can be used in a myriad of ways, but given his height limitations, he’s projected as a big body fullback to help lead the charge in the running game.

The Giants recently cut Elijah Penny from the squad, so they could be in need of a full-back. At 6’1″ and 239 pounds, Hall ran a 4.96 40-yard — with 19 benchpress reps at the NFL Combine. He brings intangible traits as a team captain and displays phenomenal toughness.

Per NFL.com, Hall is a team leader and productive player:

Team leader and productive player for successful Sooner offenses during his three seasons as a starter. Hall frequently aligned at wingback but was a little inconsistent at finding his angles and sticking to his block when asked to be an extension of the offensive line in the run game. He has the toughness and pass-catching acumen to fold into a fullback role for teams utilizing 21 personnel groupings and he might benefit from a more focused itinerary as a lead blocker. His high football character and core special-teams potential increase his odds of landing an NFL job, but becoming a stickier blocker might be the key to establishing career longevity at the next level.

If Hall can improve his blocking technique and fundamentals, he could end up being a solid player at the next level. That could be on special teams or elsewhere. His receiving abilities also spur a bit more versatility within his game. The Giants could get creative at the FB position, given his experience as a tight end.

Giants sign DB Michael Jacquet to compete at boundary corner

Michael Jacquet, giants

The New York Giants have been injecting more talent into the cornerback position ever since they released a James Bradberry. Bradberry signed a one-year, $10 million deal to join the Philadelphia Eagles, Big Blue’s primary rival in the NFC East.

Earlier this week, the Giants signed Khalil Dorsey and Maurice Canady to compete on the back-end at cornerback, but they also added Michael Jacquet on Thursday, a veteran of both the Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jacquet has eight games of experience in the NFL at 25 years old, posting 18 combined tackles, three passes defended, and one forced fumble.

In 2020 with the Eagles, Jacquet recorded most of his action. He enjoyed 142 snaps as a wide corner. The Giants need more support at boundary CB desperately, so the 6’2″, 201-pound former undrafted free agent will have a chance to earn a spot on the roster.

It is quite clear the Giants are taking a more conservative approach toward building their secondary, focusing on the past rush this off-season. Letting Bradberry go decreased the overall talent in the unit. Since the Giants are embarking on a full-scale rebuild, there were always going to be units that drew the short end of the stick. GM Joe Schoen can target 2023 as the year to address cornerback with more valuable draft capital and salary space.

Did the New York Giants uncover a gem in fourth-round pick Dane Belton?

dane belton, giants, iowa

The New York Giants lost a number of key pieces in their secondary this offseason. Three starters in the Giants’ 2021 defensive backfield have moved on to new teams. The Giants have attempted to supplement these losses through the 2022 NFL Draft. New York drafted two defensive backs in this year’s draft, including a potential “gem” in fourth-round pick Dane Belton.

Pro Football Focus recently named Dane Belton the Giants’ “Biggest Draft Gem” from their 2022 class. New York selected the Iowa safety in the fourth round with the 114th overall pick in the draft. Dane Belton is a playmaker that lined up in a variety of positions for Iowa’s defense. New York Giants defensive coordinator will need to move Belton around his defense to maximize the rookie’s skill set and potential.

What Dane Belton is bringing to the Giants

Dane Belton is also a superior athlete. His relative athletic score (RAS) was an elite 9.41 after an impressive day of athletic testing at the Scouting Combine. Belton ran a 4.43s 40-yard dash with a blazing-fast 1.49s 10-yard split. The versatile defensive back has the straight-line speed to make the break on passes and make plays.

Making plays is what Dane Belton was all about during his collegiate career. He totaled 5 interceptions and 7 passes defended in 2021. Belton was constantly popping up around the football, being a pest to opposing quarterbacks. In the NFL, Dane Belton should see early playing time on special teams. His role defensively, though, would likely be as a nickel safety.

Playing as Iowa’s “cash” defender, Belton thrived as a slot safety, allowing a 66.0 passer rating across 315 coverage snaps. He packs a powerful punch at 6-foot-1 and has shown an ability to thrive in a zone coverage slot role when given the opportunity (89.4 zone coverage grade in 2021). – Pro Football Focus on Dane Belton

Dane Belton’s skill set is similar to that of Giants defensive back Julian Love. Both players have the ability to line up just about anywhere in the secondary. Belton could potentially serve as an upgrade to Love, though. lt will be an interesting summer as training camp should ultimately determine which of the two players sees more playing time in the regular season.

New York Giants bring in defensive back reinforcements to help smooth over loss of James Bradberry

maurice canady, ravens, giants

The New York Giants recently cut cornerback James Bradberry to clear $10.1 million against the salary cap. In desperate need of money to sign their 2022 rookie draft class, general manager Joe Schoen was forced into this unfortunate move. He tried to execute a trade that would’ve opened up a bit more cash and added draft capital to the mix.

Nonetheless, Big Blue has been trying to supplement his loss ever since. The expectation is that second-year corner Aaron Robinson will get the first crack at replacing Bradberry. The Giants haven’t hesitated to bring in more competition, though.

“We still have — defensively, I think is where we are going to have to add. Again, when we got here, where the roster was, we had to add a lot of pieces, and there’s only so many resources. So we did the best we could this weekend, and we’ll continue to do that in free agency,” Schoen told reporters after the 2022 NFL draft.

On Wednesday morning, it was announced that Schoen had signed Maurice Canady and Khalil Dorsey to contracts.

What are Canady and Dorsey bringing to the New York Giants?

Canady is a 6’1″, 198-pound DB out of Virginia. He has spent five seasons in the NFL, playing eight games last year with the Dallas Cowboys at 27 years old. He picked up six combined tackles while on the field. However, he has plenty of experience featuring in Wink Martindale‘s defensive system during his days in Baltimore. Canady spent about 4.5 seasons with the Ravens during the early portion of his career. He played in 24 total games, with his best season coming in 2019 when he split time with the Ravens and New York Jets.

Maurice tallied 46 combined tackles, one tackle for a loss, and five passes defended during that season. He also intercepted one pass and forced a fumble. This is likely just a scheme-fit-related signing for Martindale. I wouldn’t anticipate him stealing a starting job anytime soon but at the very least, acting as competition and bringing knowledge.

The Giants also signed Khalil Dorsey to a contract, having featured with Baltimore in 2020. Dorsey made six appearances during his lone season, recording just two tackles. At 24 years old, he has knowledge of the system and will likely compete for a back-end reserve spot or special teams role.

Rookie tight end turning heads at Giants OTAs

daniel bellinger, giants

The New York Giants are practicing at OTA’s this week. There have been some standout rookies and not just the team’s two hyped-up first-round picks. Late-round guys are already turning heads this summer. Take, for example, fourth-round pick Daniel Bellinger. The tight end out of San Diego State has already captured attention after just a few practices.

With the 112th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the New York Giants drafted tight end, Daniel Bellinger. This fourth-round pick was acquired in last year’s blockbuster trade-down with the Chicago Bears. The Giants drafted a versatile tight end with a well-rounded skillset in Bellinger. They had a significant need at tight end after seeing their top three on the roster depart this offseason. Evan Engram left in free agency while Kyle Rudolph and Kaden Smith were both released. Daniel Bellinger has an opportunity to make an instant impact as a potential starter in his rookie season.

What Daniel Bellinger is bringing to the Giants

Daniel Bellinger reportedly made the “play of the day” in Monday’s practice with a spectacular touchdown catch. This is not out of the norm for the rookie. He had a wide frame and secure hands which allow him to go over the top of defensive backs in the end zone:

Bellinger averaged 14.5 yards after the catch per reception, which ranked first of the prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft class (PFF). Daniel Bellinger is also a willing blocker and a secure catcher. He had 0 dropped passes in the 2021 season to go along with a 4.2% drop rate for his entire collegiate career. Bellinger was utilized a lot on screens and short passes during his collegiate career. Over in Kansas City, new Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka and the Chiefs turned Travis Kelce into one of the NFL’s best tight ends using him in a similar fashion to the way San Diego State used Daniel Bellinger.

Daniel Bellinger is an athletic tight end with a well-rounded skillset. He is 6-foot-6, 255 pounds, and moves quickly with the ball in his hands. Bellinger racked up 31 receptions for 357 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2021. The Giants needed to find themselves a new tight end, and it seems like Joe Schoen delivered with the draft pick of Daniel Bellinger in round four.

New York Giants Day 2 OTAs: Main Takeaways

giants, kayvon thibodeaux

The New York Giants hosted their second day of OTA’s on Tuesday, featuring rookies and veterans alike. Thus far, second-round receiver Wan’Dale Robinson and a few undrafted free agents have stood out the most.

Via the Giants website:

*Wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson has displayed a quick twitch during OTAs. The rookie is already a frequent target of Daniel Jones. The two connected on several passes during 11-on-11 drills, including a sideline grab for a sizeable gain. Robinson is extremely quick in getting to the outside with his cuts and will be a tough matchup for defenders.

It is a great sign that Robinson and quarterback Daniel Jones have already begun developing chemistry this off-season. Robinson offers Jones a security blanket in the short portions of the field, especially given his success in the screen game.

With Kentucky last season, Robinson ranked 3rd in screen catches with 35 and 4th in screen yards with 268. He also caught 16 deep catches, ranking 6th in the league. With that array of qualities, Jones can target him in various portions of the field, which is likely how Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka visualize him being used.

The Giants are seeing what Kayvon Thibodeaux is capable of:

Fellow draft pick Kayvon Thibodeau also stepped up big in a scrimmage scenario, tipping a pass that landed in the hands of Xavier McKinney, who took it the other way. Seeing the Giants’ top draft picks making plays during OTAs is definitely a good sign, but it means nothing until they translate to an actual game.

*Speaking of pass breakups, Kayvon Thibodeaux made a nice play to tip a pass at the line of scrimmage, and the ball landed in the hands of Xavier McKinney, who returned it the other way.

So far, it seems as if the Giants have gotten off to a good start, especially given their successful health reports.