The New York Giants front office has a lot of questions to answer along the offensive line. Many fans believe that the organization should blow everything up and think the team needs new guards and a new right tackle.
However, the discussion on how to replace those positions has been a lot more convoluted. Some say that they should be upgraded via free agency, but it's not like the past few regimes have not tried to do just that.
Some say you need to dedicate second- or third-round draft picks to solve the problem, but then you are not shopping for the best of the best talent; rather you are taking dented cans and garments with blemishes on them.
With all these questions surrounding the offensive line, the answers might be easier than people would imagine. This offensive line has the elements to be a really good run-blocking unit and, with a big addition, could become one of the scariest, most complete units in the league.
Here's how we would configure the offensive line.
Left Tackle: Andrew Thomas
This year, the Giants need to protect Thomas from himself. He clearly was a lot more compromised by the injury he sustained in the first game of the season than anyone wanted to admit.
Now the top job of this team is to get him healthy again as he is the jewel of the offensive line and should be a plug-and-play guy for the next 6-10 years. He's big, powerful, and athletic.
If he can not bring all of those tools to the game, it definitely hampers their ability to be effective along the offensive line. Thomas is one of the best in the NFL at his position, and it is time for him to lead the unit like Maverick in Top Gun. This line will only be as good as he makes it.
Left Guard: Evan Neal
It is well documented that I expressed concerns about Neal's pass-blocking issues when he was coming out of Alabama. Everybody looked at how big and powerful he was and suddenly, he was a wanted man by several teams.
Two years later, Neal leaves a lot to be desired at right tackle. Neal is much better suited to play inside, so why not put him on a side that he's more comfortable at and next to Thomas, the line's centerpiece?
At Alabama, Neal played left guard in 2019 and left tackle in 2021. His worst season at Alabama was 2020, where he played right tackle. If he is moved back to the left side, it would allow his natural stance and movement to return, and if Thomas was ever injured, Neal, who has an All-Pro ceiling as a left guard, would make the natural move to left tackle.
Center: John Michael Schmitz
The rookie has overcome snap issues, injuries, and facing very physical defensive interior linemen early in the season to round into a solid performer. After all, it is an adjustment to go from college to the NFL, regardless of how long you spent in college.
Schmitz has not been the runaway best center in the draft like many predicted, but he's been solid. It is a little disappointing that he is not further along, given his age and experience, but his arrow is pointing up.
He will need to get stronger and more physical as his career progresses, but the jump from Year 1 to 2 is usually huge in that regard. He is athletic and intelligent, and the rest of his game should round out nicely going forward.
Right Guard: Joshua Ezuedu
Yes, we have seen the second-year North Carolina product start at left tackle, but the fact remains that they drafted him to be a guard. And in what's clearly a pattern, Ezeudu is big, strong and athletic.
What we say at tackle was raw ability that was getting finessed, the best way to solve that is to take him out of the areas where he could be finessed. Get him, his power, and his athleticism playing in a phone booth where he can latch onto a defender and keep him at bay and we think that, just like Neal, he will blossom into a high-quality guard in this league.
Right Tackle: Olumuyiwa Fashanu (Penn State)
Now we get to the newcomer currently not on the roster. Although this pick would necessitate drafting an offensive lineman probably high (Day 1 or Day 2), which could mean passing on a quarterback in Round 1, this year's quarterback class is deep enough to where a good candidate can be had on Day 2.
We've seen how elite quarterback talent drops in the draft, and with this year's crop that is projected to come out having warts, why pay a premium? Instead, pay a premium for a guy that will give you a bookend to Thomas.
Here's what is special about Fashanu: He can pass protect! He has barely given up any pressures, much less a sack, and the youngster is still improving weekly. Like the others along this newly-constructed offensive line, he is big, strong, powerful, and athletic! He would be the final piece of the puzzle that could provide the team with youthful continuity regardless of who the quarterback or coach happens to be.
The Giants have so many elements to be a quality offense, and we have seen glimpses. It is rough to judge the quarterback position based on this season because there has been a lack of cohesiveness surrounding the offensive line.
Even if a change is made at quarterback, this line needs to be addressed, and throwing money at the problem may not solve it. There is also the real chance that elite-level talent will be available on Day 2 of the draft.
Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders, who may declare for the 2024 draft but who will likely wait until 2025, will likely be the one that teams in need of a quarterback covet.
So for a team like the Giants, sticking with a vet--remember Daniel Jones will still be under contract given his enormous cap hit--and then bringing in young talent in 2024 makes sense in the world if you plan to move heaven and earth to get Sanders.
We have seen Sanders operate behind a historically bad offensive line so we know he will not be flustered by it. With this newly constructed line with a full season of work under their belt, he may never know the struggles of past Giants quarterbacks.
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