Problems need answers. Weaknesses need to be strengthened.
The Giants will come out of the 2020 NFL Draft having fortified their offensive line. Whether that arrives via an offensive tackle with their first-round pick (the most likely scenario) or on the second day of the draft, this help will come.
Bank on it.
General manager Dave Gettleman is always a proponent of building with the big guys, and he is fully aware of what has gone on up front the past few years. He used his first two first-round picks with the Giants on Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones, and not giving them adequate protection has produced a total of nine wins in two seasons. It is akin to purchasing fantastic new toys and, oh my goodness, not including the batteries required to get the toys up and running.
“Well again, you know my theory,’’ Gettleman said Friday. “It’s very, very difficult for Saquon to run the ball if he doesn’t have holes. It’s going to be difficult for Daniel to throw the ball when he’s on his back. We’ll continue to build the offensive line.’’
With that, Gettleman admitted what is well-known to anyone paying attention to the state of the offensive line the past few years.
“Is it a pressure point? To a degree,’’ Gettleman said. “I’m not going to deny that. But it’s about getting the right guy. It’s about not panicking.’’
This is not an assurance the Giants, with the No. 4-overall pick (assuming they do not trade down a few spots), will take one of the top-rated tackles in this class. It would hardly be considered “panicking’’ selecting Jedrick Wills (Alabama) or Tristan Wirfs (Iowa) and, in the eyes of many scouts, also not a panic move to take Mekhi Becton (Louisville) or Andrew Thomas (Georgia) up so high. But if the Giants do not view any of those four as a legitimate top-five talent or value, it would be a reach to take any of them, even to fill a glaring need.
The “pressure point’’ Gettleman referenced is real. He again mentioned undrafted Nick Gates as having “a bright future’’ and noted Spencer Pulley “has done good work for us at center.’’ There was a reminder center Jon Halapio, who is currently unsigned, “is coming back, hopefully he’ll be ready to go’’ after surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon.
These are all options, though not first options, for the Giants. Gettleman said he and new head coach Joe Judge view team-building through similar lenses.
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“Joe and I are of the same mentality that really and truly, the offensive line sets the tone for the team,’’ Gettleman said. “It really does. You think of the offensive lines in 2007 and 2011 when we beat the Patriots, those groups set the tone. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure we replicate that.’’
Interestingly, the two most recent Super Bowl lines for the Giants were not assembled by paying full retail. Chris Snee, taken in the second round, was the highest draft pick on either line. David Diehl, the starting left tackle for both Super Bowl both teams, was a fifth-round pick. Kareem McKenzie, the right tackle for both teams, was a third-round pick of the Jets. Shaun O’Hara and Rich Seubert, starters for the 2007 team, were undrafted. Kevin Boothe (starter in 2011) was a sixth-round pick of the Raiders and David Baas (2011) was a second-round pick of the 49ers.
Gettleman called this offensive tackle draft class “a thick group,’’ saying “there are tackles throughout the draft.’’ Perhaps he believes the Giants after the first round can find one capable of starting.
Nate Solder, the returning left tackle, played poorly in 2019. It is not financially prudent to part ways with him, as it would mean an unwieldy $13 million in dead salary cap money.
“We’re going to bring in the best players,’’ Gettleman said. “It they’re at a position where there’s an incumbent starter, then he’s going to compete.’’