The Giants may have decisions to make at a number of offensive line spots, which could affect the overall potential of this group.
The organization has widely enhanced the talent level within the group of offensive skill players with the acquisitions of Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, John Ross, and Kyle Rudolph. Not to mention, Saquon Barkley is coming back and the returning Sterling Shepard-Darius Slayton-Evan Engram trio has the opportunity to put last year’s on-field woes in the rearview.
Barring significant injuries, Jones and the offense definitely has the correct unit of weapons in place and must improve.
However, the line — whose performance will be a huge determinant of the offense’s success — still carries uncertainties.
While having slightly developed over the course of last year, Dave Gettleman’s group of “hog mollies” still doesn’t own the most superb reputation.
The O-line will have a lot on its plate, but before it can take the field, the coaching staff must figure out who will even be in the starting lineup to commence the season.
Given the available options, could the Giants take a route that sees more veteran experience on the line or one that fields younger, fresher legs to assist in the protection of the quarterback?
Veteran Experience — Welcome back, Nate Solder
So before we say anything else, let’s make this clear — Andrew Thomas, Nick Gates, and Shane Lemieux will respectively start at left tackle, center, and one of the two guard spots. Thomas and Lemieux are entering their second seasons in the league while Gates is heading into his fourth year but second as a full-time starting center.
The two other spots that are seemingly vacant are the right tackle position and the alternative guard role opposite Lemieux.
Electing to take the veteran route would likely lead to the Giants plugging Nate Solder in at right tackle.
Solder is the oldest potential starter this line owns and was the team’s starting left tackle for both the 2018 and 2019 campaigns prior to his 2020 opt-out. Gettleman was high on him in the beginning (signing Solder to a lucrative four-year contract back in 2018 was one of the first big moves he made as Big Blue’s GM) and still sees potential in him (he was willing to restructure Solder’s contract and allow him to compete this offseason).
Thomas is 22 years old, Lemieux is 24, and Gates is 25 — the Giants could thus wish to employ someone like Solder (33) to be a mentor within the group.
Taking more of a veteran route could also lead to the Giants choosing free-agent pickup Zach Fulton over Will Hernandez for the guard spot opposite Lemieux.
Fulton started 44 combined games for Houston over the last three seasons and isn’t completely up there in age (currently 29 years old).
Joe Judge’s staff may not be all too high on Hernandez either (it didn’t place him back in the starting lineup last year after he missed two games due to COVID).
Fresh legs — Giants enhance Matthew Peart’s role
Do you also find it interesting the Giants didn’t utilize any of their six draft picks from this offseason on an offensive lineman?
Some people discussed the possibility of taking a tackle in the first round. While I didn’t think that would occur, I believed they would at least acquire an interior offensive lineman with a middle-to-late-round selection.
But the fact the organization didn’t address that position group means one thing: it likely believes in player development and the idea of continuity within this current unit.
If that is indeed the case, it would only make sense for second-year man Matthew Peart to start at right tackle and then Will Hernandez (entering his fourth season) to start at guard.
The Giants are seemingly high on Peart — they provided him reps in a number of games during his 2020 rookie campaign including a start at left tackle in Week 6 (Andrew Thomas was benched due to disciplinary reasons).
Peart possesses more recent experience working with guys like Hernandez and Gates than Solder does — a crucial tidbit when you keep the idea of continuity in mind.
The same goes for Hernandez and Fulton — the former most recently worked alongside the returning O-line counterparts.
A young and developing line that includes Thomas, Lemieux, Gates, Hernandez, and Peart could fit in well with this already-young Giants offensive unit.