There are numerous position battles for the New York Giants this offseason, but these two positions on the offensive line may take the cake.
On either side of the ball for the New York Giants, it’s unclear who the full starting squad will be. There are numerous position battles across the board that’ll make for some interesting training camp practices when the months of July and August roll around.
However, there are two other position battles that are extremely important for Big Blue, both on the offensive line. They’re crucial when you consider how much this part of the offense needs to improve from last year.
The Giants offensive line was tied for 22nd in the NFL last season with 47 allowed sacks, which is enough evidence to prove how important these two position battles are.
1. The center position: Jon Halapio vs. Spencer Pulley
Halapio won the starting job at center for the 2018 season, as he beat out Brett Jones leading up to week one. Halapio was poised to have a productive year, as the Giants staff was confident in what he could bring to the offensive line. The veteran appeared in 10 games and started in six for New York in 2017 at right guard.
However, Halapio’s season was cut short. He suffered a fractured ankle in a week two loss against the Dallas Cowboys. The injury landed him on the season-ending injured reserve list and put his future as a Giant in jeopardy.
Halapio did perform well during his short stint in 2018 though. He achieved an above-average Pro Football Focus grade of 69.4. At the end of the day, it’s a real shame that he went down with the injury.
The Giants then re-signed Halapio in March of this year, as they expect him to return healthy and ready to be a productive asset on the offensive line. He even took the majority of the first-team reps at center during OTAs and minicamp.
Giants head coach Pat Shurmur recently stated, per Jared Schwartz of the New York Post, that Halapio “was really playing well for us before he got hurt a year ago. So we had high hopes for him last season. It appears he has come back 100 percent and is back in there just like he was when he left us.”
When Halapio went down with the injury, the Giants picked up Pulley off waivers in September of 2018. In the remaining 14 games after Halapio’s injury, Pulley appeared in 13 and started in nine at the center position. Pulley previously started all 16 games at center for the Los Angeles Chargers in 2017.
Pulley proved to be a reliable option for the Giants at the interior of the offensive line, as he posted an average Pro Football Focus grade of 55.9. His efforts were enough for the Giants to re-sign him in March, shortly after they re-signed Halapio. Big Blue now seems confident in both options at center, which definitely makes this an interesting position battle.
At the end of the day, it really comes down to experience and the will to impress for these two. It seems the Giants like Halapio as their starter right now, being that he took most of the first-team reps this Spring. However, Pulley has a lot more experience as a starter.
Pulley has started 25 games in his career, while Halapio has only started eight. Pulley, therefore, has more experience at the center position and overall on the offensive line when it comes to time spent on the field.
If Halapio can continue to impress coaches and remain healthy, expect him to be the starter. Pulley is a close second though, so don’t be surprised if the coaches keep an eye on him leading up to week one.
2. The Right Tackle Position: Chad Wheeler vs. Mike Remmers
The Giants had a below-average offensive line last season, and Wheeler was a big reason for that.
The second-year tackle out of the University of Southern California started in 14 games after Ereck Flowers was benched and eventually released. It was a step up from Flowers, but not by much, as Wheeler struggled throughout the entire year.
Wheeler allowed six sacks and 45 pressures on the quarterback during the regular season. He finished with the worst Pro Football Focus grade on the Giants, with a below-average grade of 47.4.
The former USC Trojan was brought back to compete though, so the Giants do at least see something in him that they like going forward.
The Giants signed now-former Minnesota Vikings tackle Mike Remmers in May. The contract was for one-year, $2.5 million, with $1 million guaranteed.
From 2017-2018, Remmers appeared and started in 27 games for Minnesota at both the guard and tackle positions. Remmers was in Minnesota when Shurmur was the offensive coordinator for the Vikings.
Remmers does impress on the field, which is a big reason why he’s started 64 games throughout his career. However, he’s a journeyman in this league, which is a bit of a concern.
To be honest, I think Remmers has a good chance to beat out Wheeler for the starting job at right tackle. If Wheeler can’t show that he’s improved from his struggles last season, the Giants are going to have to move on from him. It’s that simple.
Remmers has more experience than Wheeler at 30-years old, as he’s played in 65 games in his career while Wheeler has only played in 27.
While Wheeler has more experience within the Giants’ system, both have the same experience when it comes to Shurmur’s system. Unless Remmers struggles mightily in training camp while Wheeler improves drastically, I believe Remmers will win the job going into the regular season.