Andrew Thomas hasn’t undergone an easy start to his NFL career, but the New York Giants rookie tackle is remaining upbeat.
It’s been one challenge after another for Andrew Thomas. At 21 years old, he entered the league with the expectation that he would immediately become the New York Giants‘ starting right tackle, with a lost offseason amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, that’s until Nate Solder opted out, a decision that moved Thomas to the more crucial and superior left tackle spot.
The Giants’ early-season opponents didn’t exactly introduce him to the simplest of tasks either. Ahead of Week 6, Thomas has already received the noteworthy responsibility of facing DeMarcus Lawrence, Bud Dupree, Aaron Donald, and Khalil Mack, with Washington edge rusher Chase Young on deck this Sunday.
Needless to say, an overwhelming commencement to an NFL career has brought itself onto the former Georgia Bulldog. But despite the previous tough matchups (along with those to come), Thomas’ positive attitude isn’t disappearing.
Andrew Thomas on facing elite pass rushers in his first five games as a pro:
"It's actually been good for me to see it so early so I can understand how it goes and how it is week in and week out." pic.twitter.com/QjOeN6WKFe
— Giants Videos (@SNYGiants) October 16, 2020
“[The challenge of facing talented pass rushers] has actually been good to me,” Thomas told reporters Friday. “I think to see it so early, so I can understand how it goes and how it is week-in and week-out and I think that’ll make me better in the long run.”
Simply speaking, Thomas has struggled up to this point, undergoing the growing pains that many expect out of a rookie, especially one playing the ever-important left tackle position within a weak, untalented, and struggling offensive unit.
Through the first five weeks of the season, Thomas is the worst-graded rookie first-round offensive tackle on Pro Football Focus when it comes to pass blocking (and also ranked 71st out of 72 total tackles measured). While Cleveland’s Jedrick Wills tops the rookie first-round list at 77.9, Thomas is fifth with a measly 47.4.
2020 1st Round tackles by pass-blocking grade:
🔸 Jedrick Wills 77.9
🔸 Tristan Wirfs 74.6
🔸 Mehki Becton 69.1
🔸 Austin Jackson 52.0
🔸 Andrew Thomas 47.4 pic.twitter.com/kSOgoURCiy
— PFF (@PFF) October 15, 2020
Also according to PFF, Thomas has allowed four sacks — tied for the second-most among tackles — on a total of 223 pass-blocking snaps.
The run-blocking department isn’t where it notably improves for Thomas either.
On 96 snaps, Thomas has notched a 56.9 run-blocking grade, a mark that puts him as the 54th-best tackle in those regards out of the 72 measured.
All in all, Thomas’ 57.0 total PFF grade is ranked 63rd on the list — not an ideal start from an analytics-based eye, to say the least.
But despite the below-average on-field performance and metrics, patience needs to be implemented when focusing on the 2020 No. 4 overall draft selection. I know, fans have become irritated with Big Blue’s offensive line. But we’re not talking about the entire group, and rather the lone 21-year-old who the Giants have asked so much from in just a short matter of time.
Fans must understand the role he’s in at the moment: A guy who was drafted less than six months ago, playing one of the most important offensive positions within a unit that’s missing it’s deadliest weapon and operating under a new coordinator and head coach, already facing the cream of the crop in the pass-rushing department.
That type of situation isn’t meant to work out initially, and the fact that it isn’t is normal. If Thomas is still struggling down the line, then you own the right to worry. But right now, be patient, even if it pains you to carry out that request.