Who will line up across the New York Giants offensive line in 2011 is anybody's guess right now. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Today's 2010 New York Giants positional review concerns the offensive line, the last position on that side of the ball before we begin discussing the defense.
Let's start with this. There have to be changes on the offensive line for the 2011 season. Even if health allows, which is a huge question mark, it would be a huge mistake for the Giants to begin 2011 with the same veteran group they have used most of the past few seasons.
Let me also add this. The Giants know it. Way back in training camp of the 2010 season you could tell the Giants knew they were on borrowed time with the David Diehl-Rich Seubert-Shaun O'Hara-Chris Snee-Kareem McKenzie group. It is why Will Beatty 2009 second-round pick Will Beatty got a serious look at left tackle. It is why guard Mitch Petrus (fifth round) was the only offensive player general manager Jerry Reese drafted in 2010. It is why the Giants took a flier on Shawn Andrews.
They know change needs to be made among this group. Age is catching up to a proud unit, showing itself in the form in injuries and increasingly inconsistent performance. If the Giants offense is going to get better in short-yardage and third-down situations in 2011, the offensive line needs to get better. And that means it needs to be different.
Let's break this group down player-by-player. I will give you three categories, our standard 'Kudos,' Wet Willies' and 'Kwillies,' and will list each player where I think he belongs.
Rich Seubert: I have to start here. We have discussed Seubert some already this season, and the amazing support he got for our 'Player of the Year' honor shows that you guys understand how good, and valuable, Seubert was in 2010. He was good at guard and better at center, filling in for O'Hara and Adam Koets. Question is, what will the Giants get from Seubert, who will be 32 next season, going forward? He was already a physical wreck, and is now facing a long off-season rehab from surgery for a dislocated kneecap. The Giants won't count him out until he proves he can't do it anymore, and neither should we. The Giants, though, need to begin thinking about how to replace him.
- Kareem McKenzie: When 2010 began I never thought I would say this when the season was over, but here it is. McKenzie was, far and away, the Giants best lineman in 2010. His Pro Football Focus grade was +23.6, way ahead of Seubert's +8.9. He deserved a Pro Bowl roster spot, which he did not get, way more than Snee (+2.8). McKenzie is a terrific run blocker and an adequate pass blocker who is rarely penalized. He has a year left on his contract, and at this point I would be shocked if he isn't starting at right tackle for the Giants in 2011.
- Adam Koets: Yes, I am putting Koets in the 'Kudos' category. Not because he is any sort of All-Pro player, or a future answer for the Giants. But, because when he finally got his chance this season Koets performance was much better than anything we could have expected. We have chuckled about Koets for a couple of years, and cringed at the thought of how ugly it could get if the four-year veteran ever actually had to play. Well, he played in 10 games this season -- starting six -- and did a good job before suffering a season-ending knee injury. He isn't a star, but he's a capable player.
- Chris Snee: Yes, Snee goes here despite being named to his third Pro Bowl. Snee was good in 2010, but hardly the dominant player he had been the past couple of seasons. His PFF grade was an OK +2.8, but not anywhere near the +26.2 he scored in 2009 or the phenomenal +30.3 of 2008, his All-Pro season. Just makes you wonder if Snee, 29, was struggling more with a knee injury than anyone let on. He is too young to be slipping already.
- Shaun O'Hara: A tough choice for me here between 'Kwillie' and 'Wet Willie.' I went with 'Kwillie' simply because I do have to appreciate O'Hara's toughness and desire to try and play through a damaging achilles injury. He did not play well, however, and now faces possible off-season surgery. O'Hara will be 34 next season and it is time for the Giants to begin looking for a long-term replacement, which they currently do not have on the roster.
- Shawn Andrews: The former Philadelphia Eagle played pretty well when he got his opportunity, his balky back just wouldn't hold up to the pounding. I love the guy's talent, but the Giants just can't count on him playing any type of major role. It simply doesn't look like he is healthy enough to handle the pounding. It would not surprise me at all if the Giants choose to let Andrews go this off-season.
- Kevin Boothe: A journeyman backup type he did show value when he was forced into the lineup at guard -- and played flawlessly at center when he went there in the final game after Seubert was hurt. Not a starter, but versatile enough to keep as a reserve. He is a free agent.
- Mitch Petrus: We hardly ever saw the guy play, but he scores points for enthusiasm. If Seubert doesn't make it back it will be very interesting to see if the Giants believe Petrus is the man to replace him. I believe that's what they drafted him for, so we will see if he justifies the selection.
- David Diehl: Can we please, please, pretty please get Diehl out of the left tackle position? I love the guy, but he is no longer a capable NFL left tackle, much less a quality one. Diehl had the lowest PFF rating of any Giants offensive player, a putrid -26.4. Boothe, by the way, was next lowest with -10.8. Diehl can't handle speed rushers off the edge, in fact he can't handle much of anybody without help any longer. I don't really know for sure if he can move inside on a full-time basis, though I suspect he can. If the Giants are going to return to the days when they had a dominant offensive line they simply have to find a better answer than Diehl at the left tackle spot.
- Will Beatty: In truth, the Giants were hoping Beatty would prove to be than answer in 2010, pushing Diehl inside. That, we know, didn't happen. I still think Beatty has a chance to be a quality player. It will be interesting to see if the Giants pick another young tackle early in the draft -- which I think they should -- or if they just give Beatty one more opportunity to grab the job.