New York Giants: Joe Judge talks center competition

New York Giants, Nick Gates

Among the many position battles and storylines surrounding the New York Giants is who their Week 1 starting center will be.

The Giants went into the 2018 and 2019 seasons with Jon Halapio as their starting center, but the 29-year-old is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon and is a free agent. Their 2020 options include Spencer Pulley, Nick Gates, and rookie guard Shane Lemieux, who cross-trained at center in the offseason.

Head coach Joe Judge says Gates, who played tackle and guard last season, is adjusting well to taking reps at center, noting that he has “improved” and his “toughness” is admirable” (quotes per Giants.com).

“Nick’s a guy that when we got here, we knew he had a lot of flexibility position wise. He had to learn the center position. I think he’s definitely a guy who’s just locked in to doing anything he could to give himself a chance. He’s improved in the short amount of time we’ve been able to be together. He shows a good command out there in terms of understanding the offense, communicating the calls. He has a toughness about him that you like inside.”

Gates appeared in 16 games for the Giants last season, making three starts (two games at right tackle and one at right guard). He signed with Big Blue as an undrafted free agent in 2018 but didn’t make his NFL debut until last season due to a foot injury.

Pulley has started 10 games at center for the Giants since 2018. Judge says Pulley is “a great communicator on the line of scrimmage and in the huddle.”

“Spencer’s a tough dude, he’s a smart guy, he can run the show out there, he understands what we’re trying to do, he understands what the defense is trying to do, he’s a great communicator on the line of scrimmage and in the huddle. Both those guys have done a tremendous job competing.”

Judge says the competition between Gates and Pulley is “scratch even.”

Whoever claims the center job will likely be accompanied by rookie tackle Andrew Thomas, Will Hernandez, Kevin Zeitler, and Cam Fleming on the offensive line.

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: Who Should Start At Center In 2020?

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

Arguably the weakest position on the New York Giants‘ roster in 2020 is the center position. The Giants made it a priority to upgrade the offensive line this offseason. However, the team did not address the center position.

The Giants spent three draft picks on the offensive line in 2020: Andrew Thomas at left tackle, Matt Peart at right tackle, and Shane Lemieux at guard or potentially center. New York also signed offensive tackle Cameron Fleming in free agency.

While rookie Shane Lemieux could count as a center acquisition, he is a guard, and the Giants did not make any other acquisitions at the center position this offseason. The Giants will be rolling into training camp on July 28th with a mostly unchanged group of centers. Spencer Pulley is still on the roster, but Jon Halapio is not. The Giants have not yet re-signed Halapio after his last two tumultuous seasons on the team, though that could change if he is healthy.

Competing for the center position this summer are three players. Shane Lemieux, the rookie out of Oregon, could join the competition despite being a guard in college. Spencer Pulley is penciled in as the starting center right now because he is the only player on the roster to have started games at center in the NFL. Then there is also Nick Gates, the underrated offensive lineman who started three games at two different positions for the Giants in 2019.

Who Will Be The Starting Center?

Spencer Pulley?

Nick Gates, Spencer Pulley, and Shane Lemieux will be the three main players competing for the starting center position in 2020. Of those three players, Spencer Pulley is the only one with any experience as a center in the NFL. Nick Gates has played offensive guard and offensive tackle in the NFL, but never center. Shane Lemieux has yet to play a single snap in the NFL and was a guard in college.

Pulley might have the most experience, but he has the least potential. Spencer Pulley has been in the NFL since 2016. Throughout his career, Pulley has been a decent replacement-level starter or backup. He has been the Giants’ backup center for the past two years and even got the opportunity to start 9 games as the team’s center in 2018, filling in for the injured Jon Halapio.

In 2018, Pulley was decent, allowing 12 pressures, and two sacks in 573 snaps according to Pro Football Focus. However, in his one start with the Giants in 2019, Pulley played a poor game and was a liability as a run-blocker. This start was in Week 10 against the Jets where Saquon Barkley ran the ball 13 times for a total of 1 rushing yard.

Spencer Pulley provides professional experience and durability to the Giants’ center position. But, in my opinion, he is the option with the highest floor and the lowest ceiling. The Giants should consider Pulley a backup center and hope that one of these young guys wins the starting job.

Shane Lemieux?

The youngest player in the group is Shane Lemieux. The Giants drafted Lemieux out of Oregon in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. During his collegiate career, Lemieux was a solid player on Oregon’s great offensive line.

Despite never playing center in his career, Shane Lemieux will be considered for the position with the Giants. Upon being drafted by the Giants, Lemieux instantly started training to be a center. In the video below, you can see him practicing his snaps:

Shane Lemieux is one strong hog molly. He stands in at 6 feet 4 inches and weighs 310 pounds. He was also efficient in college, posting an 83.9 overall grade according to Pro Football Focus, surrendering only 11 pressures. Shane is a young, darkhorse candidate to win the center position if he has an impressive training camp and preseason.

Nick Gates?

In my opinion, Nick Gates should be the Giants’ starting center in 2020. Gates has spent his time in Las Vegas this offseason training to be a center with Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.

“You know, just for what it’s worth, we’ve talked about Nick [playing center]. He did do some of that last year in practice, so it’s not completely new. Nick is smart. The thing you love about Nick is just how tough he is, because it’s a fist fight in there. There’s no doubt about that. History tells you that the toughness of your team is really, really indicated by the toughness of your offensive line. So, we’re always looking for that kind of piece. Nick would be in consideration at center, absolutely.” – Dave Gettleman on Nick Gates

Nick Gates did practice at center in 2019. He also started games at both right tackle and right guard in place of an injured Kevin Zeitler and an injured Mike Remmers. In Gates’s start at right guard in December he did not allow a single pressure and played an excellent game. Gates finished the 2019 season with a 77.0 overall grade and only 1 sack allowed in 290 snaps (Pro Football Focus).

If Nick Gates can replicate his success playing tackle and guard in 2019 at the center position, he should own the job in 2020. Gates was a pleasant surprise on the Giants’ poor offensive line last season. He has played a small sample size of snaps, but those snaps have all been efficient and reliable. Nick Gates could be the guy to turn the Giants’ biggest weakness into a strength.

Did the New York Giants land 2 potential steals on offense and defense in 2020 NFL Draft?

New York Giants, Shane LeMieux, Darnay Holmes

The New York Giants need to have a fantastic 2020 NFL draft to finally piece together a team that has struggled over the past few seasons to produce any sort of quality. Finding late-round value picks that can contribute in future years is essential toward growth. General manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Joe Judge made it a priority to address the linebacker and offensive line positions.

While it is too soon to tell if the Giants really landed any steals in the draft, there are several players with high upside we can keep an eye on.

Here are two players on both sides of the ball the New York Giants could develop into starters:

1.) Offensive steal: Shane LeMieux

When the Giants drafted Shane LeMieux in the fifth round, expectations were low. Any late-round offensive linemen are generally considered to be projects that require at least one season of actual development.

However, Lemieux brings a streak of toughness and physicality the team is lacking in the trenches. While his balance can be thrown off, and he is slow off his stance, there is plenty of physical abilities to work with.

“Shane’s a guy like Dave said, he plays with nasty,” added Giants head coach Joe Judge. “You turn the Auburn game on and right from the first snap he’s tossing bodies around. You can’t help but watch him. In a lot of cross over tape he jumps out at you as well. He’s a guy that’s going to have interior swing value. We’re going to cross train him guard and center. It’s going to be something he has been working on out at Oregon and we’re going to keep on building with that as well.”

The most exciting aspect of LeMieux is that he projects as a possible center option and guard. The Giants are currently lacking a center and will develop a position battle there to shake out the best of the bunch, hopefully. LeMieux will compete with Jon Halapio, Spencer Pulley, and Nick Gates this off-season.

“That was probably just on me,” Lemieux stated regarding his desire to train at center and guard. “Especially as a rookie, there’s not really a guard that only plays guard. Versatility is the biggest factor in this game. Coaches want to be able to put you in multiple spots. I have really good mentors that told me that at training camp, no matter where you are, they are going to throw you in, and you have to be ready. I just want to be prepared before that happened. Even at pro day, somebody asked me to jump in at center and I was ready to do that. It just all works out and versatility is key.”

Judge loves players that can play multiple positions and perform when called upon. Shane knows that the longevity of his career relies on adaptability, and he has taken the appropriate steps to function and various positions.

Shaun O’Hara: Pulley the Right Choice at Center For Giants…For Now

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

The New York Giants have been building up their offensive line this offseason, adding three tackles and an interior lineman in the draft and free agency.

The one position they haven’t formally addressed, however, is center. The Giants do have a plan, but is it a solid one? There are a lot of ‘ifs’ surrounding the center position and analyzing the situation, it seems as if they are counting on getting lucky rather getting good.

Last year’s starter, Jon Halapio, is currently not on the roster as he is still rehabbing from a Achilles injury he suffered lat last season. At last glance, Halapio’s rehab is going well and the team has even mentioned re-signing him once he’s healthy.

Halapio’s backup is Spencer Pulley, who has started nine games in his two seasons with the Giants. Pulley is a serviceable option for the Giants at the moment considering the other choices facing them at the moment.

GM Dave Gettleman has intimated that Nick Gates, who has played both center and guard for the Giants can also play center. Then, there is fifth round draft pick Shane Lemieux out of Oregon, a tough interior lineman in the mold of Rich Seubert who is mainly a guard and has never played center.

Lemieux will be working at center and so is Gates but former Giants Pro Bowl center and current NFL Network analyst Shaun O’Hara believes that Pulley is the Giants’ best option right now.

“I think Spencer Pulley is a good center,’’ O’Hara told the NY Post. O’Hara believes that Lemieux’s learning curve will be too steep to displace Pulley in camp this summer.

“The toughest thing a lot of guys have, if you’ve never played center, is shotgun snaps,’’ said O’Hara. “Most guys can figure out the under-center snap. Shotgun snaps, sometimes people become mental midgets with that and they just can’t handle it. It sounds to me he’s the kind of guy that is gonna stay out and snap 1,000 balls if he has to, to make sure he can handle that.’’

The experience angle led O’Hara to say that Pulley should be the starter until the Lemieux or someone else can come in and raise the level of play without sacrificing stability.

“He’s not going to come in and be better than Spencer Pulley right away,” O’Hara said of Lemieux. “Just from a mental standpoint, making the calls. And you got a young quarterback too. Daniel Jones has not seen every defense yet. Would I want a second-year quarterback and a rookie center playing? Heck no.’’

That may not deter the Giants from fast-tracking Lemieux into the center position. They want change up front and quickly.

New York Giants: A Greatly Improved Offensive Line?

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

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

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

5. NEW YORK GIANTS

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

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

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

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

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

Projecting The New York Giants’ Top Roster Weaknesses In 2020

New York Giants, Markus Golden

The New York Giants have rebuilt their roster over the past couple of seasons. They found their future franchise quarterback, Daniel Jones, in 2019 and revamped their offensive line in 2020. The future is bright for the New York Giants, but the rebuild is not complete. There are some legitimate strengths on their roster but also some glaring weaknesses. Today, I will break down those weaknesses heading into 2020.

The Pass Rushers

It is no secret that the Giants lack a premier pass-rusher. They have a chance at retaining Markus Golden before the season starts, but even still, the pass-rush with Golden was not fantastic last year. The Giants did sign Kyler Fackrell this offseason, though, and he should make an impact. But there still is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the group of pass-rushers on the Giants’ roster.

Lorenzo Carter did not take the leap forward that we expected him to last season. Oshane Ximinez flashed potential, and hopefully, he can build on that in 2020. But the pass-rush on the Giants’ defense is going to have to derive mostly from Patrick Graham’s scheme. Graham loves to blitz in creative ways to get after the quarterback. That is how the Giants are going to have to do it this year.

The Lack Of A Primary Receiver

The Giants have a core of talented receivers on their roster. Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, and Darius Slayton form a reliable group of receivers for Daniel Jones to throw to. But there is no X-Factor amongst the group.

That dominant, reliable, number one receiver can be so crucial for an offense. Don’t believe me? Let me refresh your memory of the Giants’ 2008 season. How bad was that offense after the Plaxico Burress incident occurred? They could not move the ball without that legitimate receiving threat. And it’s not like there were no other capable receivers on the roster. Amani Toomer, Steve Smith, and Dominick Hixon were all solid contributors. But they were not primary targets. They could not draw double teams and open up the offense the way that Burres could.

That is what we are looking at with the Giants’ offense in 2020. There is a lot of talent in that receiving corps, and there is a chance that Slayton could progress and become that primary threat. But, at this moment in time, that dominant number one receiver does not exist on the Giants’ roster.

Darius Slayton and Golden Tate both averaged only 2.2 yards of separation per catch. This number ranked near the bottom of the NFL. Sterling Shepard did manage to average a respectable 3.1 yards of separation, though. But still, Daniel Jones had a lot of tight windows to throw into last season and there is no sign that that will change in 2020.

Question Mark At Center

The Giants have options at the center position. There will be a three-way competition for the starting role. But there is no definitive answer at this point as to who will start at that key position.

Spencer Pulley, Nick Gates, and Shane Lemieux are all options at center. But there are cons with each of them. Pulley has never been an impressive starter, albeit he is a solid backup. Gates and Lemieux are both offensive guards that will look to make the position switch this season. Even if the switch is made successfully, there are bound to be growing pains along the way.

The Giants finally solidified their tackle positions, drafting Andrew Thomas at fourth overall and Matt Peart later in the third round. This gives the Giants the flexibility to move Solder to the other side of the line or have Thomas play his rookie season at right tackle. The options at that position make it a strength compared to the center position, where the options are slim and unreliable.

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.

What are the New York Giants doing to solve the center problem?

New York Giants, Nick Gates

The New York Giants have one spot that needs filling; what are they doing to solve it?

Everybody believed the Giants would allocate draft capital toward the center position, but GM Dave Gettleman and Hc Joe Judge turned the other cheek toward a spot that has lacked talent in recent years.

Jon Halapio has been the Giants’ center of choice the past few seasons, despite breaking his leg and suffering a torn Achilles tendon in back-to-back seasons. Gettleman was confident that he would return to full health in 2020, stating:

“Halapio is coming back, hopefully he’ll be ready to go and recovered from the Achilles by June. We’re just going to keep working at it,” general manager Dave Gettleman said during a conference several weeks ago.

This is a good sign for a team who’s fall-back option is Spencer Pulley, a journeyman center who cannot be trusted as a starter. However, Halapio isn’t an elite player either; some might even argue he just barely scratches average. Finding a better offensive lineman to fill the void would likely be in the best interest of the team, which is where former UDFA Nick Gates and fifth-round draft pick from 2020 Shane Lemieux comes into play.

“I understood that this game is all about versatility,” Lemieux said on a Zoom interview, accordoing to Giants.com. “I think that me getting good at all three interior positions is going to benefit me well in the future. I don’t really have a position. I just want to be ready whenever I get in, to be ready to play whatever coach asks me to.

“I think I’m an offensive lineman, that’s what I’m coming in as. That’s what I have been playing, I’m a football player. I’m a football player that plays offensive line. No matter where the coaches want to put me to help the team, that’s where I’m going to go.”

Gates has reportedly been taking snaps under center the past few months in preparation for a potential move to the inside, and Lemieux is also capable of making the transition. With Halapio and Pulley expected to return next season, a competition battle will likely be the result of management’s lack of injection into the position.

Having four players battling it out at the position, the Giants can be confident the winner will be at the very least serviceable. An added benefit is they will have significant depth scattered across the offensive line.

 

New York Giants New OL Lemieux Discusses His Versatility

The New York Giants spent four picks in the 2020 NFL Draft on the offensive line. New York secured two tackles, one fourth-overall, and one ninety-ninth-overall. They then found some depth at guard with Shane Lemieux out of Oregon in round five.

Shane Lemieux was a bit of a surprising pick. The tackle position was weak for the Giants but they went into the draft already pretty strong at the guard position. Kevin Zeitler and Will Hernandez are capable starters. But Shane Lemieux might be able to fill a different role.

Shane Lemieux Discusses His Versatility

This morning, beat writers were given the opportunity to interview Shane Lemieux via a conference call. He was asked about his potential role with the Giants in the near future and whether or not he can play the center position.

“I think I’m an offensive lineman,’’ Lemieux said when asked what position he plays (via the NY Post).

Shane Lemieux discussed his versatility, stating “versatility is the biggest factor in this game. Coaches want to be able to put you into multiple spots.’’ This is certainly true with the Giants as we have seen with the likes of Nick Gates. Gates has filled in at guard, tackle, and is now practicing to play center for the Giants in 2020.

The Giants will likely try Lemieux at center and see how it goes. Here is what Shane had to say when asked about potentially moving over to the center position:

“I feel like with center there’s a lot more responsibility on you to know the offense and to know more of the defense and to just be more sound with what’s going on around you,’’ Lemieux said. “And obviously you’ve got to snap the ball.’’ – Shane Lemieux via the NY Post

Below is a video of Shane Lemieux pre-draft practicing snapping as a center:

The Giants will have depth at the guard position in 2020. Lemieux is a talented interior offensive lineman who understands the importance of versatility and durability. He missed only one snap in his four-years as a starter at Oregon. The Giants will see how he performs at center but, regardless, Shane Lemieux will be available to fill in at whatever interior offensive line position they need him to.