SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 17: Quenton Nelson #56 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates after a 10-yard touchdown reception by Corey Robinson against the USC Trojans in the fourth quarter of the game at Notre Dame Stadium on October 17, 2015 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

After all of the reported free agent signings on Tuesday, it’s looking like Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson has emerged as the favorite to be taken by the New York Giants with the second pick in the draft.

It wasn’t long ago that the “experts” were telling us that Andrew Norwell, the New York Giants‘ top free agent target, was a lock to sign with Big Blue. After all, he’d be reunited with general manager Dave Gettleman.

But after meeting with former Giants head coach Tom Coughlin in Jacksonville, he’s decided to stay down south, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Of course, players can’t officially sign with teams until Wednesday, but Norwell signing with the Jaguars is a formality.

They may not admit it publicly but losing out on Norwell hurts the Giants as Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur’s primary goal this offseason was to rebuild the offensive line. Norwell was the best free agent lineman available.

The Giants offensive line has been woeful for years and was the reason why the Giants had the 26th-ranked rushing attack in the league last season.

As disappointing as the offensive line has been over the years, the Giants must now face the prospect of being without their three best offensive linemen from a season ago.

The Giants are already losing center Weston Richburg who, per Schefter, will reportedly sign a five-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers on Wednesday.

The Giants may also lose guards Justin Pugh and D.J. Fluker, free agents who may look to sign with a contender or a team that can outbid the Giants.

So this puts the Gettleman and Giants in a precarious position.

They’ll probably make a hard push to sign free agent left tackle Nate Solder to protect Eli Manning’s blindside, but the Giants will have to compete with the Houston Texans and other teams for his services.

Even if the Giants acquire Solder, they’ll still need to address the interior offensive line.

According to Spotrac the Giants have just over $20 million in cap space, so it will be impossible for them to sign Solder and two quality free agent guards.

That said, it’s looking more and more likely that the Giants will draft Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson with the second pick in the draft

Nelson is widely regarding as the best offensive lineman in the draft, and this was before his impressive showing at the NFL Combine, where he recorded 35 reps on the 225-pound bench press.

 

His strength, aggressiveness and nasty attitude are exactly what the Giants need to rebuild their offensive line for 2018 and beyond. He has the potential to be one of the best guards in the league the first time he steps on an NFL field.

If Gettleman truly wants to rebuild the line and make it the teams’ top priority, then he can’t afford to pass up on Nelson.

He may feel the urge to draft Saquon Barkley if the Browns don’t take him with the first pick, but with the Giants signing Jonathan Stewart to pair with Wayne Gallman, there’s less of a need to acquire another running back.

 

Plus after losing out on Norwell, Gettleman can’t let another young and talented lineman slip through his fingers.

The draft is still a month and a half away, but it’s starting to look as if Nelson will be the first draft pick of the Gettleman and Shurmur regime.

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