The New York Giants have had lingering offensive line issues over the past few years. They could take a big step in fixing them this April.
The offensive line, in my opinion, has been at the forefront of the New York Giants‘ major struggles over the last trio of campaigns. What was once a tenured group of Pro Bowlers, leading the way for Eli Manning to win a pair of Super Bowl titles, has become a position group that’s recycled underachieving players for what’s been too long.
You hear names such as Ereck Flowers, Bobby Hart, and Marshall Newhouse, and you begin to cringe. It’s been a goal for Giants fans to forget guys like that. The offseason usually introduces hope, but the multiple acquisitions and alterations to the line haven’t brought much fortune to a fanbase desperate for relevancy again.
But this current offseason could be different in those regards. Because in less than a month (April 23-25), the Giants will possess the chance to solve a ton of their offensive line problems in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft.
Now, in March’s ESNY Giants draft roundtable piece, I said Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons would be the pick. I stand by that still to this day, because Dave Gettleman likes to draft the best player instead of drafting for need, and Simmons will certainly fit that bill at No. 4 overall (if available).
But that may not be what I think he should do. I think I would actually become more satisfied if they went offensive line (drafting for need) over Simmons, especially when you consider the long-term future of the franchise.
Let’s take a look at some of the facts here. This offensive line allowed 43 sacks last year, and that’s with a quarterback in Daniel Jones (13 games, 12 starts) who can extend plays and actually find space outside of the pocket. It’s something Manning could never do.
Of those 43 times the opponent successfully brought down the quarterback, 17.5 were due to errors made by the tackles — Nate Solder allowed 12.5 sacks and the now-Chief Mike Remmers allowed five. It’s clear just from the numbers that the two tackle positions are an issue. Simply speaking, neither spot possesses a long-term answer at the moment.
Solder is still employed and will be for the near future. If released prior to the season, he would hold a significant 2020 dead cap hit of $16 million. And as far as the right tackle spot is concerned, a position battle is set to be held between Nick Gates and Cam Fleming, two guys who aren’t — and shouldn’t — be the solution.
Therefore, enter Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs.
The Hawkeye standout, who won the 2019 Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year Award, will most definitely be available for the Giants in the opening round. This will be the case regardless of if pick swaps occur or not.
Listen, the way most mocks currently have the draft order is probably going to reflect reality. Joe Burrow first, Chase Young second, Jeffrey Okudah third. Then, the Giants will have their choice between Wirfs or Simmons. If New York swaps with the Chargers, then Los Angeles will likely take a quarterback at No. 4 and Miami will do the same at No. 5.
Wirfs should definitely be available for the taking. And I know I said they’ll probably take Simmons, but when you consider the legitimately correct decision in terms of roster needs, Wirfs should 100% be the pick.
So then what occurs in round two?
The Giants possess the No. 36 overall selection (round two, pick four), and they could certainly use it on Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz. Now, this won’t be the same exact case as is the Wirfs situation — it’s not clear if Biadasz will 100% be available at that time. We’ll never truly know until the day-of, but if he’s there, he should definitely be made a Giant.
Biadasz proved to be the top center in the nation last year by winning the Rimington Trophy.
It’s a crucial pick, because if the tackle position is the biggest question mark offensively for the Giants, then the center spot is a close second.
Right now, Big Blue employs Spencer Pulley as the starting center. It’s unclear if they’ll bring back Jon Halapio, a guy that started 15 games last year, tore his Achilles in Week 17, and became an unrestricted free agent when the team chose not to tender him.
Pulley isn’t the worst option in the world, but he’s far from the best. In four games (one start) last season, he amassed a 48.7 grade via Pro Football Focus. In 13 games (nine starts) the year prior, he finished with a 56.7 Pro Football Focus mark. Each grade was lower than what Solder and Remmers finished with in 2019 — 64.7 and 64.3, respectively.
Thus, the organization shouldn’t make many long-term plans involving Pulley.
I also have a dream scenario involving the Giants’ second-round plans. Say the Los Angeles Chargers want to jump the Dolphins in order to draft Tua Tagovailoa, and do so by swapping picks with the Giants. Big Blue would go back to No. 6, and with the leverage they would have in that scenario, could ask for the Chargers’ second-round pick (No. 37 overall).
The Giants could then take Wirfs at No. 6 overall, Biadasz at No. 36, and then have Los Angeles’ original pick to possibly address the edge rusher spot, another position of need especially if Markus Golden doesn’t return. They could then take someone like Notre Dame’s Julian Okwara (if available), who’s one of the better speed rushers in this class.
Plenty of questions will need to be answered between April 23 and 25. But when that period arrives, the Giants could solve a plethora of issues in regards to one evidently struggling position group.