Offensive Line is a Mess, Gotta Fix it
Former general manager Dave Gettleman promised he would fix the Giants offensive line when he was hired. He ended up making it worse with failed investments in Nate Solder and so far failed draft picks in Matt Peart and Shane Lemieux. New Giants GM Joe Schoen has to revamp the majority of the offensive line. Andrew Thomas who was the 4th overall pick of the 2020 draft struggled in his first season on the o-line but was great last year and is a mainstay on this line. Schoen added Mark Glowinski who was with the Indianapolis Colts to a 3 year deal in free agency. He should be a capable starter. Schoen also added former Buffalo Bill Jon Feliciano in free agency on a 1 year deal. There is familiarity between Schoen, coach Brian Daboll, and Feliciano since they were all in Buffalo and Feliciano should get a chance to compete for the starting center role. The Giants also added some depth options with the likes of Matt Gono Roy Mbaeteka, Max Garcia, and Jamil Douglas to possibly get a chance at competing for a job. At least Schoen spent whatever he could to help fix the o-line but there needs to be more investments in the o-line throughout the draft.
There are different arguments on when the Giants should address the o-line in the draft. Teams, scouts, and analysts evaluate players differently every year and there are all sorts of reasons for calling players reaches and steals. For example a talented player could fall in the draft due to medical or maturity issues. Sometimes teams pick players earlier than projected because they believe in the upside and that they would best fit their teams’ scheme. Analysts term these selections as “reaches” because their numbers don’t pop off the page like other players do. Every team has their own big board of rankings and we will find out soon how teams evaluated all the players compared to scouts and analysts including how they evaluated the o-linemen.
Every draft season, there is a consensus number 1 guy for each position. This year’s draft is a little different with reports saying that teams are going back and forth between Evan Neal of Alabama, Ikem Ekwonu of NC State, and Charles Cross of Mississippi State as who they believe are the top lineman in the draft. Entering the 2021-22 college season, Neal was considered the top tackle but new players always enter the picture and some of these top players fall off a cliff. Spencer Rattler is a good example of this. Neal is still considered a top 10 pick but there have been mock drafts with Ekwonu and even Cross being the top tackle taken. He is a reason why each would be considered the first one taken. Neal was at Alabama which means he faced SEC level competition and played very well against powerhouses like Georgia and Clemson. Ekwonu is like a “pancake” the way he plays the position and the fact he was able to get his name ahead of Neal in some mocks is impressive. Cross is considered the best pass blocker of all the lineman and that’s very imperative for a QB’s protection. Here’s a reason for why each wouldn’t be considered as the top tackle. What happened during the college season to Neal that some teams might not consider him as the top tackle anymore? Some people have categorized Ekwonu as a guard. Teams tend to value tackles more. There are concerns about Cross’s run blocking ability. If I had the choice, I would pick Neal because I think he would be a great duo with Andrew Thomas and would solve many issues. However, I think any of these guys would be good options for the Giants at 5 or 7 or in a trade back scenario. There are other guys for the Giants to consider throughout the draft as well like Kenyon Green of Texas A&M, Tyler Linderbaum of Michigan, Bernhard Raimann of Central Michigan, Tyler Smith of Tulsa, Trevor Penning or Northern Iowa, etc.. Any of these guys could be good options for the Giants to address the o-line. This is probably the Giants biggest need especially on the offense. It has to be addressed. I’m not opposed to waiting on an o-lineman until day 2 but if a guy like Neal is available at 5 or 7 and the trade back options aren’t too appealing, it might be tough to pass on these potential difference makers in the first round.