The New York Giants possessed a below-average offensive line last year and could look to the draft to improve it for 2020.
As the NFL Draft creeps closer, many New York Giants fans hold the belief that Big Blue may take a defensive player with their No. 4 overall pick. And why shouldn’t they? Their pass rush was 22nd in the league last year with just 36 sacks. The secondary, on the other hand, ranked 28th with 264.1 passing yards allowed per game.
But because of the fact that the defense struggled so much, a number of people have begun to overlook just how bad the offensive line was as well. Led by an overpaid left tackle in Nate Solder, the Giants tied for 19th in the league with 43 sacks allowed. Therefore, New York could actually use their first pick in April to select a tackle who can grow with this offensive group for years.
With the draft less than two months away, let’s take a look at four of the highly touted prospects at that specific position.
Jedrick Wills, Alabama
Alabama tackle Jedrick Wills is a freak athlete for his size (6-foot-4, 312 pounds). The soon-to-be pro started 29 games for the Crimson Tide across a trio of seasons. He was named a second-team AP All-American for his efforts this past year and additionally was a first-team All-SEC selection.
Wills is projected to be drafted in the top 10 and could find himself in the top five. Luckily, there’s a good chance he’ll be available for the Giants at No. 4 or even at No. 5 or 6 (if they trade back).
Looking at the film against LSU last November, his footwork is what jumps off the screen. Wills is very quick off the snap and is able to keep up with opposing edge rushers. He’s additionally strong enough to slow down his opponent, delivering an initial bump that knocks off their timing. It’s a quality that Giants fans didn’t see a whole lot of during the Ereck Flowers era.
Wills is agile after contact as well, possessing the ability to recover and re-set himself. He doesn’t block with his hands either, which is a common weakness among young and struggling professional offensive linemen.
All in all, Wills’ athleticism will be a reason why he succeeds in the NFL. It’s become a faster-paced game, and athletic offensive tackles are able to thrive in this league. Solder, Flowers, and Mike Remmers aren’t exactly in that category, which has hurt the Giants organization for a number of years.
Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
Last week, reports stated that the Giants “love” Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs. And honestly, there are a number of reasons why they should.
Wirfs stands at 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds, which is a tad bit taller than Wills. Throughout his career at Iowa, Wirfs started 33 games and earned a multitude of honors.
During his sophomore year in 2018, he was named an All-Big Ten honorable mention. Due to his junior-year efforts in 2019, Wirfs was named a second-team AP All-American and was selected to the All-Big Ten first team. He additionally won the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year Award.
When looking at how Wirfs plays the tackle position (in this specific game against Wisconsin), it’s clear right away that his offensive line presence is dominant. Just like Wills, Wirfs is able to recover quickly when he finds himself in trouble and is able to regain his balance and strength.
With quick feet and his head always on a swivel, Wirfs is also able to figure out his blocking assignment and locate his opponent quickly. This would help the Giants out tremendously especially when it comes to passing downs. Quarterback Daniel Jones could thrive with a man like this blocking for him.
As far as run plays are concerned, Wirfs doesn’t stop the penetration until his opponent is flat on the ground. He assists greatly in the formation of the hole and would be a fantastic help for running back Saquon Barkley, who’s lacked a dominant offensive line since entering the league in 2018.
Andrew Thomas, Georgia
Andrew Thomas — who was arguably the best tackle in college football this past year — possesses both size and athleticism. The Georgia Bulldog is currently 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds ahead of the NFL Draft.
Thomas has impressed since his first year in Athens. He was was a freshman All-American back in 2017, a second-team AP All-American and first-team All-SEC selection his sophomore year, and finally a first-team AP All-American and first-team All-SEC selection his junior season.
His style of play carries a number of similarities to Wills’. With the correct footwork, Thomas doesn’t give the pass rusher a clear path to the quarterback. If he could bring this type of quality to East Rutherford, he’d help protect a young quarterback who needs assistance in developing. Thomas doesn’t block with his hands either, a quality Wills also contains.
The 21-year-old gives a good first bump to slow down his opponent but doesn’t stop there. He’ll force the pass rusher to the outside to throw off his timing and clear the way for the quarterback to step up in the pocket.
While at Georgia, Thomas displayed great chemistry with his offensive line counterparts in order to open up holes for the ball carrier. If the Giants were to select him, he could do this with a young guard in Will Hernandez (if he’s put on the left side) or a veteran guard in Kevin Zeitler (if he’s on the right).
Mekhi Becton, Louisville
And last, but certainly not least, the biggest individual on this very list.
Mekhi Becton has a massive frame, standing at 6-foot-7 and 364 pounds. Per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, Becton wants to slim down to around 350-355 pounds. This would help him improve his quickness and athleticism.
How big is Mekhi Becton? He weighed in at the Combine 364 pounds and says he wants to get “down” to between 350 and 355.
— Paul Schwartz (@NYPost_Schwartz) February 26, 2020
Also according to Schwartz, Becton already believes he’s the best tackle in this upcoming draft class.
Large Mekhi Becton says he’s the best offensive tackle in the draft. “You can’t go wrong picking me,” he said. pic.twitter.com/LQGo0eBsQB
— Paul Schwartz (@NYPost_Schwartz) February 26, 2020
During his three years at Louisville, Becton started 33 games. His efforts during his junior season in 2019 led to his selection to the All-ACC first team.
What’s very intriguing about Becton’s game is that in spite of his very large frame, he portrays superb athleticism. He has good enough footwork to be able to force his opponent to the outside.
On passing downs, Becton can keep up with the opposing pass rusher and can re-set himself after initial contact. This would help create space in the pocket for Jones to step up and deliver the throws he needs to make.
With run plays, Becton’s size says it all. That type of frame helping to create holes for Barkley could do this offense wonders.
The issue though is that there may be doubts about Becton’s ability to transfer his talents over to the pro level. It’s a completely different ballgame in the NFL, and Becton may actually be a little too big to handle speed rushers.
It’s unclear if the Giants would take Becton at No. 4 if other tackles are available. That’s, of course, if New York decides to go that route with their first-round selection.