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Can David Diehl Play Guard?

Can David Diehl play guard? It looks like the New York Giants might need to answer that question in 2010.

During the recently concluded mini-camp, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride made it obvious that the Giants are giving Will Beatty, a second-round pick a year ago, a full shot at winning the left tackle job this season. If Beatty does that, the plan is to move Diehl from the left tackle spot he has held the past three seasons to left guard -- bumping Rich Seubert from the lineup.

We have been speculating throughout the off-season about the possibility of Diehl moving inside. That has led to questions about whether or not Diehl can be an effective player at guard.

To be honest, I don' t really understand the question. Oh, of course, I know what it means. I can't, though, figure out why it is even being asked.

Can Diehl play guard? Of course he can. I don't doubt that for a second.

Let's remember that the Giants drafted Diehl AS A GUARD in the fifth round of the 2003 NFL Draft. Yes, he has been the Giants' version of a human pinata -- spending his seven-year career bouncing all over the offensive line -- but let's not forget that guard is his natural position. The one I have always maintained he is best-suited to play.

Diehl started at right guard as a rookie in 2003, and was good enough to start every game. He was also good enough that, when the Giants needed a right tackle the following season, they trusted him enough to move him out there.

Next, he got bounced over to the left side and spent the 2005-2006 seasons starting at left guard.

Then came the 2007 season, and the big move for Diehl from left guard to left tackle. Turn back the clock. Remember how much we all questioned whether Diehl was the right guy to replace Luke Petitgout? Whether or not he had the athleticism to protect Eli Manning's blind side?

What were we saying then? We were saying Diehl is a natural guard. Again and again during the summer of 2007, I wrote about the subject of the Giants gambling on moving Diehl outside when it was "widely accepted that Diehl is better suited to stay at guard."

So, why -- if it was acknowledged at the time that guard is his better position -- are there now questions about whether he can handle switching back inside to guard?

Like I said, I don't get it.

Diehl has always given his level best at left tackle, and his ability to at least hold his own out there was in reality the key to the Giants building the quality offensive line that has stayed together for three seasons now. His Pro Bowl appearance last season (as an alternate, remember) not-withstanding, Diehl has always been only adequate at best on the outside.

He simply lacks the athleticism and quickness to deal with speed-rushing defensive ends, and has surrendered 28.5 sacks in his three seasons at left tackle. I believe all these concerns about Diehl, who is 6-foot-5, 319 pounds, being too tall to pay guard are pure silliness. He has already done it at the NFL level, and it quite well.

Nothing against Seubert, I love his heart and what he has done the past several seasons. I am, however, rooting hard for Beatty to earn that left tackle job.

I believe that automatically improves two positions on the Giants' offensive line.