The Giants need their offensive line to improve. Eli Manning was beaten up nearly as much in 2013 as he was in 2011 and 2012 combined, and the running game all but disappeared.
Surprisingly, rookie Justin Pugh was the best of the bunch, and one of the better tackles in the league last year.
Will Beatty had an up and down season, playing horribly in some games, and well in others. He has admitted to trying to do too much, playing too aggressively, to live up to the contract he signed last offseason. On the other hand, he has a track record of strong play, being one of best left tackles in the league in 2011 and '12. That, plus the glimpses of strong play in 2013 suggest a bounce back season in 2014. He is coming off an ugly leg break, but he should be healthy for the offseason program.
The bookends of the line appear to be in place.
The interior of the offensive line is another can of worms entirely.
So far this offseason David Diehl has retired, and even though he has played long and well for the Giants, this is still a relief. Long-time Giant Chris Snee wants to play again after finishing the season on IR with his second hip surgery in six months, but who knows whether he will be able to. Center David Baas could find himself a cap casualty, and free agent Kevin Boothe's play did not live up to the mark he set in 2012.
James Brewer (finally) entered the starting lineup when James Cordle landed on IR (after replacing the IR'd David Baas). He initially had a strong showing, but began to play too aggressively and appeared to be mis-cast as a left guard, where he was often asked to pull and play in space.
Brandon Mosley got a brief glimpse of the field when Brewer was injured and got the start when Diehl went down, before he too went down with an injury. Mosley played right guard and looked solid with impressive movement skills and awareness. However, he is still something of a mystery, at least to those of us on the outside.
The Giants are spending the first two months of the year evaluating the mess that was the 2013 season and figuring out how to fix it. They could go a number of routes with regards to the offensive line, and the draft is one of them.
With that in mind, lets take a look at one of the top guard prospects in the 2014 draft, Mississippi State's Gabe Jackson.
- Absolutely massive human being (6-4, 339 pounds)
- Long arms
- Mauling run blocker
- Surprisingly nimble pass blocker
- Weight could be an issue
- Nimble in a phone booth, but can look uncomfortable in space.
- Might not fit blocking scheme
- Likely a guard only
Does He Fit With The Giants?
A year ago I would have said "Yes, absolutely". In fact, Jackson was one of my favorite OL prospects before he announced that he was going back to school last year.
However, with the likely change in blocking schemes coming to the Giants' offensive line, Jackson might not be a good fit. Without knowing how many of Green Bay's zone blocking concepts new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo will institute, it is difficult to say what level of athleticism the Giants will need to have in their retooled offensive line.
Jackson IS incredibly nimble for his size, so it's possible that if he and the team keep a close watch on his weight, keeping it down to about 320 (or so), he could play in any scheme the Giants use. However, that is a guess, and guys like Jackson can have problems managing their weight.
Gabe Jackson vs LSU 2013 (via JPDraftJedi)
Big Board Rankings
Big Blue View - 32
Mocking The Draft - 47
CBS Sports - 71
Draft Countdown - Not Ranked
Draft Tek - 82
Does Jackson fit the Giants? Well, they need to improve their offensive line, and he is a quality offensive line prospect, so on that level: Yep.
However, without knowing what McAdoo wants to do with the other 80 percent of the line, it is difficult to say exactly how well he would fit in. Last season the Packers mounted a punishing rushing attack by blending man concepts in with their existing zone scheme. It's possible, maybe even likely, that McAdoo would do the same thing here, and blend zone concepts into the Giants man blocking scheme. If that were the case, then Jackson should fit (provided he keeps his weight under control).