New York Giants: 2020 Will Not Be Dave Gettleman’s First Virtual Draft

New York Giants, Dave Gettleman

The 2020 NFL Draft will kick off this Thursday, April 23rd. The world pandemic coronavirus has halted the sports world and greatly altered the format of the NFL Draft. This year’s draft will be like no other, taking place in a completely virtual format with NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell announcing the picks via a webcam in his basement.

This is a new, challenging experience for the thirty-two NFL teams. The traditional draft format has become the routine standard for the league. Changes to this standard have created uncertainty and anxiety around this year’s draft with teams fearful of online hacks and technological miscues. But the New York Giants seem to be at an advantage this year.

Dave Gettleman’s Virtual Draft Experience

In his previous stint as general manager of the Carolina Panthers, Dave Gettleman conducted a draft via the web once. Now, with the Giants, he will do it again.

At the time of the 2014 NFL Draft, Dave Gettleman was a proud father witnessing his son’s college graduation. For this reason, he opted to draft remotely. Gettleman conducted Carolina’s 2014 draft via Skype. This is similar to how the Giants will handle the 2020 NFL Draft, likely through Zoom or Skype, and with all front office members separated from each other in their respective homes.

According to ESPN, Gettleman “flawlessly” ran the draft remotely. The 2014 report states that he “helped make the team’s final three picks from a hotel room in Massachusetts.” He even made a draft-day trade from his hotel room. Maybe the surfacing of this report will put to rest the internet’s jokes about the Giants’ GM being too old and out of touch for the draft’s virtual format.

“It works. They got to see my handsome face and I got to see theirs. The process was really the same. It really was.” – Dave Gettleman on conducting a draft remotely through Skype, via ESPN.

The virtual aspect of the 2020 NFL Draft should not waiver fan’s confidence in Gettleman and the Giants. He has strung together two impressive draft classes in a row for the Giants. These last two draft classes should instill fans with all the confidence they need heading into this week’s crucial draft where Gettleman will once again be making picks from a remote location.

New York Giants: Dave Gettleman Says He Will Seriously Consider Trading Down

New York Giants, Dave Gettleman

The 2020 NFL Draft is less than a week away. The New York Giants hold the fourth overall pick, their third straight season picking inside the top-ten. General Manager Dave Gettleman is heading into his third draft as GM of the Giants and needs to put together a strong class in order to keep his job.

Gettleman and company are ready for the virtual NFL draft. Working from home will be challenging, but Gettleman assured the press today that he is fully prepared to draft from home and communicate with his team via a virtual medium.

During his conference call with the New Jersey beat writers today, Dave Gettleman was asked about the possibility of trading down in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He made it clear that trading down is a real possibility this year.

Will The Giants Trade Down?

General manager Dave Gettleman has never traded down in his entire career as a GM. He is known as a “stick-and-pick” GM. But that could change this year. Gettleman has not ruled out the possibility of a trade down this year. He has actually made it pretty clear that trading down is something the Giants want to do.

“Something I will very seriously entertain.” – Dave Gettleman on trading down in the 2020 NFL Draft

The Giants are not going to wait for teams to call them, looking to move up to fourth overall. Instead, Dave Gettleman is going to hit the phones himself, stating, “I’m gonna make the calls.” Gettleman also stated that he hopes to have trade parameters of any potential deal for the fourth overall selection in place before the Giants are on the clock. So if the Giants do decide to trade down, expect to hear that news break in the coming days, rather than moments before the pick is in.

New York Giants: Two LSU Defensive Prospects That Make Sense In A Trade-Down Scenario

The New York Giants hold the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. For now… And maybe forever. But the opportunity still exists for New York to trade back and grab extra draft capital. General manager Dave Gettleman stated in February that the Giants are “open for business.” He admitted that the team is open to trading down from fourth overall but he also indicated that they do not want to trade down too far.

Gettleman does not want to trade back and compromise the talent-level of his first selection in exchange for additional picks. He only wants to trade back if he can ensure himself a top-tier prospect. But there are two LSU defensive prospects available in the later parts of the first-round that could be home-run selections for the New York Giants if they do decide to trade down.

Patrick Queen, LB, LSU:

If the Giants do not take Isaiah Simmons at fourth overall, why not take the next best thing? Simmons is not the only linebacker in this class who excels in coverage- Patrick Queen out of LSU does, too. Benjamin Solak of The Draft Network described Queen as: “A highly adept zone cover defender who overlaps short zones with ease and makes high-quality plays accordingly.”

Patrick Queen is an athletic inside linebacker, considered by most to be the second-best in this class. He ran a 4.5s 40-yard-dash at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine to go along with his impressive 18 bench press reps. Queen might be a bit undersized at 6 feet tall and 229 pounds. But he more than makes up for his size with his intensity.

Patrick Queen has a high motor that never seems to turn off. He racked up 85 total tackles in 2019 including 3 sacks and 12 tackles for loss. He also added an interception against top-tier quarterback prospect Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama:

If New York selected Patrick Queen it would have to be after the first twenty-or-so picks. So they would have to be trading down pretty far to make Queen an option. There is a chance he slides into the second round but that is highly unlikely. A trade for Patrick Queen that makes sense: acquiring the ninth and twentieth overall selections from Jacksonville in exchange for fourth overall. The Giants would be moving back five spots, still able to draft an offensive tackle at ninth overall. Queen would then be a strong option at the twentieth overall selection.

K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU:

There is another Louisiana State product that could make sense if the Giants trade down. Dave Gettleman made it clear this week that the Giants are “not in position” to acquire a “25-sacks-a-year guys.” But he also pointed out that “we haven’t gone through the draft yet” and assured that the Giants “will just keep building it.”

Enter K’Lavon Chaisson: a 20-year-old athletic specimen out of LSU. He did not run the 40-yard-dash at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine, but if he did he would have ranked amongst the fastest at his position. Chaisson made life difficult for opposing offensive tackles in the SEC with his explosive burst off the edge and quickness to get to the quarterback. He stands tall at 6 feet 3 inches and weighs in at 254 pounds with lanky 32 and 1/4 inch arms.

Most draft analysts regard K’Lavon as the second-best edge rusher in this draft class behind only Chase Young. The Giants desperately need a stud, primary pass-rusher off the edge and if they trade down, K’Lavon Chaisson could be that prospect. The LSU edge rusher put his athleticism to good use, dominating the competition for 6.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss en route to a National Championship.

K’Lavon Chaisson is projected to be a mid-first-round draft pick. He has been commonly mocked around the fifteenth or sixteenth overall selection so New York would have to trade back pretty far for Chaisson to become an option.

New York Giants NFL Draft Profile: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

New York Giants, Tristan Wirfs

The New York Giants are picking fourth overall in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. This is their third straight season picking inside the top-ten. It is a crucial draft that general manager Dave Gettleman needs to get right in order to keep his job.

The Giants have many positions of need, but arguably their weakest position is offensive tackle. Luckily for New York, the 2020 NFL Draft class is rich in offensive line talent, especially in the first round. One of the top offensive tackle prospects in this year’s class is Tristan Wirfs, an uber-athletic tackle out of Iowa.

This article is the fourth installment of a new article series here on Empire Sports Media. This new series, the NFL Draft Profile series, will feature breakdowns of notable draft prospects to create a profile that summarizes and highlights the prospects’ top strengths and weaknesses. You can check out the first installment, the Isaiah Simmons NFL Draft Profile, here. The second installment, the Mekhi Becton NFL Draft profile, can be found here. The third installment, the Andrew Thomas NFL Draft profile, can be found here.

Granted, I am not an expert draft analyst. However, in this article, I will be breaking down Tristan Wirfs as a prospect after watching hours of his film and using credible draft analysis from various sites such as NFL.com, Pro Football Focus, and The Draft Network intertwined with my own analysis. I will use the expert analysis to cross-check and cross-reference. I will use it to confirm or deny what I have seen on film. A YouTube video will also accompany this article on our channel, Fireside Giants. Unlike the last two draft profiles, I did not make this video. Instead, our chief engineer behind the Fireside Giants YouTube channel, Mike Iarrapino, made our Tristan Wirfs Scouting Profile video.

Top Strengths:

Athleticism:

Tristan Wirfs has all the measurables to make NFL scouts fall in love with him. He is one of the most athletic offensive linemen to enter the league in recent memory. He lit up the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, finishing first among all offensive linemen in the 40-yard-dash, the vertical jump, and the broad jump.

Tristan Wirfs comes in at 6′, 5″, 320 pounds. He possesses 10 1/4″ hands and 34″ arms. He has the height and weight to be an NFL tackle, but some critics question Tristan’s arm length. 34 inches is considered to be a bit short, which is why some have suggested that Wirfs would make a better guard or interior offensive lineman at the next level. Tristan’s vertical pass sets are another reason some make that suggestion, but we will discuss his technique more later.

The speed and acceleration displayed at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine constantly showed up on the field. However, Wirfs’s weight room heroics do not show up on the field as often as you would like. Tristan often struggled to defend the bull-rush off the edge. Whether it be caused by a lack of strength or poor technique, there were too many instances where Wirfs was put on skates.

Mauler In The Run Game:

Tristan Wirfs is the ideal lead blocker. His speed and athleticism give him the ability to lead block for running backs twenty yards down the field. It is intriguing to see just how well Wirfs’s Combine measurements translate to his on-field performance.

Take this clip from Iowa’s 2019 matchup against USC for example:

As great as he is as a lead blocker, that is not all that is special about Tristan Wirfs. He is also a smart run-blocker that opens up huge holes with timely cut-off blocks. He has the power and quickness to drive defenders back coming out of his stance. Playing the right tackle position with that much speed allows Tristan to excel in the outside running-game.

Top Weaknesses:

Struggles To Defend Inside Pass-Rush Moves:

This is also something that Mike Iarappino discusses extensively in the Tristan Wirfs Scouting Profile video on Fireside Giants. More often than not, when Tristan Wirfs lets up a pressure, he gets beat on an inside move. The main reason for this is his footwork/kick steps and the angles he takes on his pass sets. Tristan’s pass sets are can be too vertical. This is when his body is perpendicular to the line of scrimmage. This will be discussed further in the next subheading.

Although he is cerebral enough to anticipate twists and games inside, his lateral agility won’t allow him to get into good positions with his body. He struggles to redirect when a defender has countered or made an inside move. – Drae Harris, Senior NFL Draft Analyst at The Draft Network

This flaw, though, is the reason that some analysts suggest that Tristan Wirfs should play guard in the NFL. It is much more difficult to get beat on an inside move at the guard position because there is not as much space between a center and a guard as there is between a right tackle and a guard. It is also much more difficult to get too vertical in pass sets as a guard because of the spacing.

Tristan has never played guard before and has made it pretty clear that he wants to play offensive tackle in the NFL. But these technical flaws might force a team to move him inside if he cannot figure them out.

Inconsistent Technique:

There are some reps where Tristan Wirfs does everything right. On some plays, Wirfs has a quick get-off, keeps his shoulders and feet aligned, keeps his head up, initiates solid contact, keeps a wide base, and finishes the play strong. Unfortunately, those reps of technical perfection do not happen often enough.

Wirfs has demonstrated that he understands what a pass-block rep with proper technique is supposed to look like. But he has not demonstrated that he understands how to consistently have pass-block reps with proper technique. NFL coaching will hopefully fix this and make Tristan more consistent.

There are times when Wirfs’s shoulders are turned nearly ninety degrees away from the line of scrimmage. This makes it nearly impossible for him to get beat around the edge but it also makes it really easy for a speed rusher to swim inside. If Wirfs can keep his shoulders more square to the line of scrimmage in his kick slide, he can keep the defender in front of him. Being too vertical also creates a “soft shoulder” which makes it extremely difficult to anchor down against a power rush. For a better understanding of this “soft shoulder” concept and how it impacts Tristan Wirfs’s pass protection, check out this video by Brett Kollman.

Another inconsistency in Tristan’s game has to do with his hand placement. There are times when Tristan’s hands get placed a little too far apart when blocking defensive linemen. Think of it this way: when bench pressing, is it easier to get the weight up with a wide grip or a grip about even with your nipples? Bench pressing human beings is essentially an offensive lineman’s job. Widening your arms compromises your power. Tristan needs to keep his elbows bent inwards. This technical issue could be one of the reasons why Wirfs occasionally gets put on skates in pass sets or gets no push on run blocks.

Earlier I discussed how much of a mauler Wirfs is as a run-blocker. But he is not perfect in that facet of the game either. Tristan does have a bad tendency to swing his arms back coming out of his stance. This is what offensive line coaches refer to as a “wasted motion.” Swinging your arms back to generate power in your punch just allows defensive lineman more time and a wide-open window to grab a hold of your chest and overpower you. Wirfs has the strength to neutralize that most of the time (at least at the collegiate level), but that might be different in the NFL. Lining up against the likes of Fletcher Cox and Demarcus Lawrence will cause Tristan Wirfs to quickly learn how to keep his thick, strong arms in front of his chest at all times. Once a defensive lineman grabs hold of a lineman’s chest, the rep is over and the defensive lineman won.

Recap:

I think the potential is there for Tristan Wirfs to be great. But I think he has a lot of work to do. Obviously his excellent run-blocking abilities and otherworldly athletic talent make him a first-round prospect. But there are some technical flaws that Tristan will need to clean up to be successful in the NFL.

There is a really strong chance that the Giants take Tristan Wirfs in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. The rumor mill seems to indicate that Wirfs is one of the Giants’ top targets. Even if they do not take him at fourth overall, he would be a top target for them in a trade-down scenario. Tristan’s experience at right tackle makes him a potential day-one starter on the Giants. His dominance as a run blocker would also make him Saquon Barkley’s best friend.

But, of course, drafting an offensive lineman in the first round is about the quarterback’s progression. The game is much easier to play when the quarterback has time to read a defense. Daniel Jones did not have a lot of time in the pocket as a rookie but adding Tristan Wirfs to the offensive line could fix that. However, if finding a true pass-protecting offensive tackle is Dave Gettleman’s goal, Jedrick Wills is probably the more polished and the more pro-ready prospect.

The Giants can not go wrong with this offensive line class. Even if they decide to wait until the second or third round, there is a good chance New York snags a long-term starter at offensive tackle. Tristan Wirfs has all the tools and potential to be that long-term starter. Giants fans should be ecstatic if they hear Tristan Wirfs’s name called when the Giants are on the clock next Thursday.

New York Giants: Dave Gettleman Ready For Virtual NFL Draft

New York Giants, Dave Gettleman

New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman sat down for a conference call today. Gettleman, accompanied by VP of Football Operations Kevin Abrams, recapped free agency with New Jersey’s best beat writers. But while recapping free agency, the Giants’ men in charge briefly touched on their preparations for the 2020 NFL Draft.

Working Remotely

The world pandemic coronavirus has put a halt on the entirety of the sports world- except for the NFL Draft. The draft will look a lot different this year, but it is still set to take place on April 23rd. The New York Giants are preparing for the 2020 NFL Draft like every other team during COVID-19, facetime interviews with prospects, and zoom meetings with team personnel. Dave Gettleman stated that the Giants have “had minimal issues” with their virtual draft meetings.

Gettleman can be seen working from home, prepping for the draft with his giant binder full of scouting profiles and his laptop in the Tweet below:

Prioritizing The Offensive Line

The Giants possess one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. The unit has seen minimal improvement in recent years. Many fans of the franchise want to see an offensive tackle drafted in the first round. While Gettleman did not guarantee that to happen, he did acknowledge that the offensive line will be addressed at some point in this draft.

When asked about his feelings on the offensive tackle position, Gettleman said that the Giants “felt with the depth of the tackle class in the draft.” This was the reason for the team not signing a big-name tackle in free agency. This could mean that the Giants are eyeing first-round offensive tackle prospects. But the key term “depth” could also indicate that Big Blue will prioritize the position in the later rounds of the draft.

Dave Gettleman also offered this insight for his plans with the center position:

Gettleman will conduct another conference call this Friday. This call will focus solely on the draft. Maybe Gettleman will give us a few more tidbits letting us know what his plan for the virtual 2020 NFL Draft will be.

New York Giants Set To Have Virtual Meeting With Stud LSU Linebacker Prospect

New York Giants, Patrick Queen

The New York Giants are preparing for the 2020 NFL Draft like every other team during COVID-19, facetime interviews with prospects, and zoom meetings with team personnel. The world pandemic coronavirus has put a halt on the entirety of the sports world- except for the NFL Draft. The draft will look a lot different this year, but it is still set to take place on April 23rd.

Every NFL team and draft prospect has been put at a disadvantage this offseason due to the virus outbreak. Prospects have not been able to hold Pro Days for NFL teams to scout and meet them, and NFL teams have not been able to travel to meet prospects. This will make it especially challenging for teams to sort their draft boards out within the next couple of weeks.

Regardless, the show must go on. Teams need to familiarize themselves with these prospects somehow. Of course, they will watch hours upon hours of game film as they do every year. But since these teams cannot meet with these prospects in-person, they will have to settle for virtual meetings to get to know the character behind every prospect.

Patrick Queen Virtual Meeting

According to Jordan Reid of The Draft Network, first-round linebacker prospect Patrick Queen has an upcoming meeting scheduled with the Giants in the coming days. The linebacker out of LSU has already met with the Packers, Eagles, and Ravens. His ability to command a defense, demonstrated in LSU’s National Championship-winning 2019 season, has garnered plenty of interest from NFL teams ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft.

It is highly unlikely that Patrick Queen slips into the second round. But if he does, it would be a home run selection for the Giants. If the Giants were to draft Queen, it is more likely that it would be in a trade-down scenario later in the first round.

Patrick Queen is an excellent coverage linebacker with top-notch instincts in zone coverage. According to Pro Football Focus, Queen never allowed a reception longer than 20 yards on 488 career coverage snaps. Check out this remarkable interception that Patrick Queen made versus Alabama below:

One other thing to note here for the Giants is that they are still interested in drafting a top-tier linebacker despite signing Blake Martinez in free agency. New York recognizes that Martinez is not a coverage linebacker (allowing a completion percentage of 83.8% when targeted). Still, in dire need of a linebacker who can guard tight ends, the Giants are doing their due diligence on the draft’s top prospects. This indicates that fan-favorite prospect Isaiah Simmons is still on the Giants’ draft board. Signing Blake Martinez will not discourage New York from drafting a linebacker early in 2020.

The New York Giants Need To Address The Center Position In The Draft

New York Giants, Cesar Ruiz

The New York Giants spent much money this free agency upgrading their defense. However, the team did not invest a whole lot into their offensive line- a positional unit that has not performed well in years. Nevertheless, the 2020 NFL Draft is two weeks away, and the Giants are going to have to spend some picks on offensive linemen.

There is plenty of debate about whether or not the Giants should select an offensive tackle fourth overall in this year’s draft. But there is no debate to be had over whether or not the Giants should draft a center this year- they absolutely have to. No, not with the fourth overall selection, but the Giants need to address the center position early in the draft. Reportedly, this is New York’s plan.

The Weakest Link

The Giants’ offensive line is the weakest positional group on the team. But there is no single position weaker than the center. Offensive tackle is the other position that can be debated here, but that is only because it is a more valuable position. The Giants have two starting-caliber players playing tackle. They are not high-end starters and are not long-term solutions.

But the Giants do not have a legitimate starter at center right now. If the season started tomorrow, Spencer Pulley would be starting at center for the Giants. Pulley played in four games and started only one game in 2019. He is a high-quality backup and not someone the Giants should feel confident in starting when the 2020 NFL season kicks off.

Some Center Options Early On

There are multiple centers for the Giants to target in the 2020 NFL Draft. A few prospects could be worthy of the Giants’ thirty-sixth overall selection. If Cesar Ruiz slips out of the first round, he would be a home-run selection for the Giants in the second round. New York has held a virtual meeting with the stud Michigan center prospect (according to Jordan Reid of TDN).

If the Giants decide to wait a little later to find their center, they could snag Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz in the third or fourth round. Biadasz started 41 collegiate games in Wisconsin and is one of the best interior offensive linemen in the draft class. He might not be day-one ready like Ruiz, but he definitely has potential as a long-term solution for the center position.

New York Giants To Have Virtual Meeting With OT Prospect Andrew Thomas

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants are preparing for the 2020 NFL Draft like every other team during COVID-19, facetime interviews with prospects, and zoom meetings with team personnel. The world pandemic coronavirus has put a halt on the entirety of the sports world- except for the NFL Draft. The draft will look a lot different this year, but it is still set to take place on April 23rd.

Every NFL team and draft prospect has been put at a disadvantage this offseason due to the virus outbreak. Prospects have not been able to hold Pro Days for NFL teams to scout and meet them, and NFL teams have not been able to travel to meet prospects. This will make it especially challenging for teams to sort their draft boards out within the next couple of weeks.

Regardless, the show must go on. Teams need to familiarize themselves with these prospects somehow. Of course, they will watch hours upon hours of game film as they do every year. But since these teams cannot meet with these prospects in-person, they will have to settle for virtual meetings to get to know the character behind every prospect.

Andrew Thomas FaceTime Meeting

According to Jordan Reid of The Draft Network, first-round offensive tackle prospect Andrew Thomas has an upcoming meeting scheduled with the Giants this week. The offensive tackle out of Georgia has already met with over fifteen NFL teams. His impressive performance during his junior year in college has garnered plenty of interest from NFL teams ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Is He The Pick At Number Four?

Taking Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick would likely be a bit of a reach. Some mock drafts project the Georgia offensive tackle to be drafted well outside of the top-ten selections. Thomas is a talented tackle with a promising future in the NFL, but the consensus amongst draft analysts and NFL executives seems to be that Andrew Thomas is not the top tackle prospect in the draft class.

Additionally, the names that have been linked to the Giants at fourth overall include Isaiah Simmons, Tristan Wirfs, and Mekhi Becton. They are reportedly interested in going offensive tackle with the fourth pick, but it does not seem like that offensive tackle would be Andrew Thomas.

So Why The FaceTime Meeting?

Andrew Thomas is the ideal trade-down draft selection. New York has been clear: they are open for business. If an offer satisfies Dave Gettleman, he is willing to trade back in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. But he will need to be able to land a quality player if he moves down.

Andrew Thomas might be a reach at fourth overall. But at ninth or twelfth overall, he would be a home-run selection. That is likely the reason the Giants are spending time meeting with Thomas over FaceTime. They are aware that he would be an excellent selection for them if they trade down, and they want to ensure that his quality of character is as high as his quality of football talent.

The New York Jets and Giants are embarking on a virtual NFL Draft experience in 2020

New York Jets

The NFL is preparing to embark on a virtual representation of the Draft, and it’s going to be a wild experience. Especially for the New York Jets and Giants!

The 2020 NFL draft will be different than any other draft for the New York Jets and Giants and the NFL. Roger Goodell won’t be shaking Joe Burrow’s hand and taking a picture as he holds up the Bengals jersey. There won’t be a war room filled with GMs, scouts, and coaches; instead, Joe Douglas and Dave Gettleman will likely be on Zoom with their staff. This is a drastic change, but with the current state of the world, it’s not the least bit surprising.

The NFL Trudges On

League personnel and many NFL analysts believe the decision to go forward with the draft is a heavily controversial one. Adam Schefter even said on ESPN that, “They are determined to put this on while there is carnage in the streets.” The league is determined to move forward and adapt to the continually changing conditions of our world and put on the draft. Now this year’s draft is less spectacle and more Fantasy Football. Let’s just hope nobody auto picks their draft.

In all seriousness, the NFL is providing a distraction for the country in these wild times, but at what cost? The players don’t get to celebrate with the commissioner and enjoy the recognition they’ve fought for so long to earn. The players can’t even enjoy the moment with extended family without disobeying CDC guidelines. The players are being deprived of the joy associated with achieving their childhood dreams of being drafted. It leads many to wonder if there would be more joy associated with the draft had it been postponed.

In the end, there’s going to be a draft. There’s going to be trades and the usual wall to wall coverage. The social aspect of the draft and the festival-like atmosphere that was prominent in Nashville last year is gone. Instead, the world will watch from home as Joe Burrow gets the call to achieve his NFL dreams from home, along with every other prospect as they celebrate while following CDC guidelines. 

New York Giants NFL Draft Profile: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants are picking fourth overall in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. This is their third straight season picking inside the top-ten. It is a crucial draft that general manager Dave Gettleman needs to get right in order to keep his job.

The Giants have many positions of need, but arguably their weakest position is offensive tackle. Luckily for New York, the 2020 NFL Draft class is rich in offensive line talent, especially in the first round. One of the top offensive tackle prospects in this year’s class is Andrew Thomas, a refined prospect out of Georgia.

This article is the third installment of a new article series here on Empire Sports Media. This new series, the NFL Draft Profile series, will feature breakdowns of notable draft prospects to create a profile that summarizes and highlights the prospects’ top strengths and weaknesses. You can check out the first installment, the Isaiah Simmons NFL Draft Profile, here. The second installment, the Mekhi Becton NFL Draft profile, can be found here.

Granted, I am not an expert draft analyst. However, in this article, I will be breaking down Andrew Thomas as a prospect after watching hours of his film and using credible draft analysis from various sites such as NFL.com, Pro Football Focus, and The Draft Network intertwined with my own analysis. I will use the expert analysis to cross-check and cross-reference. I will use it to confirm or deny what I have seen on film. A YouTube video will also accompany this article on our channel, Fireside Giants. Unlike the last two draft profiles, I did not make this video. Instead, our chief engineer behind the Fireside Giants YouTube channel, Mike Iarrapino, made our Andrew Thomas Scouting Profile video.

Top Strengths:

Polished Technique:

Unlike Mekhi Becton, Andrew Thomas’s technique is not his biggest weakness- it is his biggest strength. Thomas is a polished offensive line prospect with a refined technique that allows him to excel as both a run-blocker and a pass-blocker.

Georgia’s 2019 matchup versus LSU is an excellent game to watch when evaluating Andrew Thomas. Thomas starting at left tackle, was tasked with defending LSU’s first-round EDGE prospect K’Lavon Chaisson. Chaisson has game-breaking speed for his position and is a handful for any offensive tackle that he is matched up against. But Andrew Thomas rose to the challenge and put together an impressive performance shutting down Chaisson despite a lopsided loss to the LSU Tigers.

In this Tweet, below are some of the best clips from Andrew Thomas’s matchup against K’Lavon Chaisson. Note the incredible lateral quickness that Thomas possesses as he efficiently beats Chaisson to the spot each rep and easily redirects Chaisson to the turf while remaining balanced and technical:

Andrew Thomas has excellent balance. He has very active feet that give him the ability to be a secure pass-protector. Seeing Thomas handle a speedy pro-level edge rusher like Chaisson bodes well for his NFL future. But he is not perfect in this regard and does have some technical difficulties against speed rushers that sometimes get him into trouble.

Andrew’s advanced technique also shows up in his run-blocking performance. The Georgia tackle is known for being a proficient run-blocker, and his technique and high football IQ are a big reason why.

Run Blocking:

Andrew Thomas is an excellent run-blocking offensive tackle. He demonstrated time and time again that he has no problem moving defenders to open up holes for Georgia’s talented running backs. Thomas’s run-blocking talents were on full display in Georgia’s 2019 matchups against Notre Dame and Texas.

In the Tweet below are some of my favorite highlights of Andrew Thomas run-blocking. Thomas throws multiple key blocks in single plays. He has high football IQ and great spatial awareness, which allows him to do this.

Andrew Thomas does a great job with cut-off blocks. He seals off defenders away from the running lanes and gives them no chance to get in front of the running back.

Top Weaknesses:

Pass Protection Against Speed Rushers:

I previously presented some highlights from Andrew Thomas’s matchup with LSU speed rusher K’Lavon Chaisson. That was one of Thomas’s most impressive games as he handled the difficult matchup exceptionally well. Still, not every play from that game was a win for Thomas, and some flaws in Andrew’s game did show up against Chaisson (and other speed rushers in other games).

Andrew Thomas’s technique against speedy edge rushers can be inconsistent. His footwork against speed guys sometimes gets him into trouble as his lateral agility can be stunted by lousy technique and footwork. Speed rushers have opportunities to beat Thomas around the edge with pure burst and bend.

The footwork against speed rushers is Andrew Thomas’s main issue. Often his initial kick step does not place him back far enough, and when he tries to shuffle to the right spot, it is already too late. That first step is vital for offensive tackles, and when facing an edge rusher with an abundance of burst, that first step needs to be perfect.

Some issues arise with Andrew’s hands when defending speed rushers. Whether he is late to initiate contact or has his elbows too wide, this is somewhere that Andrew Thomas needs to be more consistent.

He can struggle to keep pace up the arc with speed off the edge so cleaning up his pass sets is necessary. -Joe Marino of The Draft Network

Recap:

Andrew Thomas is a refined offensive tackle prospect. His technique is polished. Thomas also possesses more than enough strength and athleticism to get the job done in the NFL.

Thomas’s strength is as a run-blocker, where he has excellent spatial awareness and high football IQ that allows him to make multiple key blocks in a single play. He does have some occasional whiffs, as all lineman do, but he is a remarkably consistent run-blocker that uses his refined technique to open up holes and drive defensive linemen backward.

Andrew Thomas does struggle at times when matching up against speedy edge rushers and will need to work on this in the NFL. Thomas will need to improve his footwork and lateral quickness/agility against speed rushers off the edge. His hand placement and initial contact can use some improvement, too. His hands are too wide sometimes and cause him to miss the defender. He also has some reps where he waits too long to initiate contact, and, when he does, there is sometimes not enough power behind the punch.

The New York Giants have many different options they can select at the fourth overall pick. If the Giants go offensive tackle in the first round, they need to give serious consideration to Andrew Thomas. Thomas’s proficient run-blocking will help Saquon Barkley flourish in Jason Garrett’s offense that, in Dallas, featured an elite left tackle in Tyron Smith for years.

Drafting Andrew Thomas would not only make Saquon Barkley better, but it would help Daniel Jones develop, too. Jones needs stability at the left tackle position, and while there might be some growing pains for Thomas early on in his career (especially when dealing with speed rushers), he has exhibited the potential to be a premier offensive tackle with a polished technique to succeed as a pass-blocker. This is not me saying that Andrew Thomas should definitely be the pick (I am still leaning towards Isaiah Simmons), but Andrew Thomas to the Giants is a draft pick I would not hate- especially if they land him in a trade-back scenario.