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Giants' offensive line building toward the future

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The New York Giants have stocked their offensive line with young, versatile players who could be moving into key roles in the next couple of seasons.

Justin Pugh and Eric Herman
Justin Pugh and Eric Herman

When it comes to discussing the state of the New York Giants one of the constant refrains the past few seasons has been that the Giants desperately needed to infuse an aging offensive line with young talent.

Well, with the drafting of play everywhere Justin Pugh in the first round and mauling offensive guard Eric Herman in the seventh round of the 2013 NFL Draft look at what the Giants have accomplished.

There is suddenly a stable of young players who can be looked at to fill holes on the line -- those like right tackle that exist now, and those that may exist due to free agency, salary cap issues and age a year or two from now.

Beginning in 2009 the Giants have followed the George Young philosophy of collecting offensive linemen by selecting at least one in every draft.

In 2009, Will Beatty was a second-round pick, the 60th player selected overall. He is now among the league's best left tackles and a 28-year-old fixture on the line.

In 2010, the Giants drafted guard Mitch Petrus in the fifth round (147th overall). That didn't work out, but at least the Giants did not neglect to at least try and add some depth.

In 2011, James Brewer was taken in the fourth round (117th overall). He was considered a project at the time, but an athletic player who could pay dividends. Brewer will likely get looks at right tackle and left guard, and no matter what should play significantly more than the 34 snaps he played a season ago -- even if that is largely as an extra tight end.

In 2012, The Giants drafted guard/tackle Brandon Mosley in the fourth round (131st) and tackle Matt McCants in the sixth round (201st overall). Mosley spent 2012 on IR and McCants on the practice squad. Of the two, Mosley seems the most likely candidate to eventually contribute.

When the Giants drafted Pugh they made a fuss over his versatility. We don't know where he will end up, though he has begun at right tackle. Herman is a seventh-round pick and might amount to nothing. He might push his way into the mix to replace Kevin Boothe at left guard in a year, or take over for Chris Snee one day when the veteran's body finally breaks down.

The point of all of this isn't to say that the Giants have "fixed" their offensive line. Some statistical measures will tell you that the line wasn't broken in the first place, although watching the games and seeing the struggles in short yardage and the hoops the Giants jump through at times to keep Eli Manning protected might tell you a different story. It also isn't to say that when the 2014 NFL Draft rolls around the offensive line is a position they should ignore. It isn't.

The point is that the Giants now have options all along the line, possibilities that did not exist all that long ago. And that bodes well for the future of that group.