After we learned of the torn pectoral muscle that will sideline New York Giants left tackle Will Beatty for 5-6 months, 'Rap' put together a look at a variety of options for how the Giants could potentially reconfigure their offensive line. It is excellent work and you should read it if you haven't already. There is, however, one scenario 'Rap' didn't delve into, and it's one that has to be discussed because of the strong possibility is it ultimately what happens.
That scenario? Putting rookie Ereck Flowers at left tackle.
The Giants used the ninth overall pick on the 6-foot-6, 329-pound Flowers not only because they felt they needed another piece to complete their offensive line, but because they made it clear they felt he was a future left tackle.
"You would think he can play left tackle. He could play right tackle," GM Jerry Reese said after the Giants selected Flowers. "We project him as a really good football player, first, and where he ends up, that's up to our coaches."
Of course, Reese had also hoped that drafting Flowers would "settle the offensive line down." It likely would have, of course, until Beatty injured himself while reportedly working out at the Giants' Quest Diagnostics Training Center facility.
'Rap' mentioned a variety of scenarios on Wednesday that mentioned players like Brandon Mosley, Eric Herman and former CFL star lineman Brett Jones. Let's forget those for the time being. The task for those players, provided there aren't more injuries, is to simply make the roster.
Unless the Giants go out and sign a veteran free agent, the starting offensive line for the Giants (fingers crossed they are all healthy) is almost certainly going to be some combination of Flowers, Justin Pugh, Geoff Schwartz,Weston Richburg and John Jerry. The question is what will the configuration be? So, let's look at what the best, most natural positions are for each player.
Flowers -- He has always played left tackle. In an ideal world, you wouldn't want a 21-year-old rookie with some acknowledged technique issues to iron out in pass protection to be your left tackle. With Beatty down for more than half the season and maybe the entire season, the world no longer is ideal for the Giants offensive line. In the current circumstance, perhaps it makes more sense to leave Flowers at a position he already knows rather than shuffle the deck further and make him learn either guard or right tackle.
Pugh -- We know he played left tackle at Syracuse. He had some blips last season, but we know he can do the job at right tackle. We know many think that he remains better suited to play guard in the NFL. We also know that the position he is probably least suited for at the NFL level is left tackle. You could put him there, but that means you are then playing both Pugh and Flowers out of the positions they are best suited for.
Richburg -- He played left guard last season out of necessity, to mixed results. It was better for him to play and learn than to sit and watch, but the results weren't always pretty. With a year of NFL experience, a year in an NFL weight training program and back at the center position he was drafted to play Richburg should be much-improved in 2015.
Jerry -- I know, many of you are wrinkling your noses in disgust at the idea of Jerry starting again. He isn't a good run blocker, as his -16.3 run blocking grade from Pro Football Focus last season attests to. What he is, though, is a good pass blocker and a guy who has started 48 straight NFL games at right guard. He is a decent NFL player, the kind a team should be thankful to have in a situation like this. Jerry played a touch of left tackle for the Miami Dolphins way back in 2011, and a few snaps at right tackle in an emergency for the Giants last season. Clearly, though, the place he belongs is at right guard.
Schwartz -- Throughout his six-year career, Schwartz has started games at right tackle and both guard spots. The position he has played most, and most effectively, is right guard. If Jerry is going to be one of the starters, though, it seems to make more sense to move the versatile Schwartz than to ask Jerry to move to a different position he isn't comfortable with or well-suited for. So, where does Schwartz go? Either left guard or right tackle, depending on what you want to do with Pugh and Flowers.
So, this leaves us with two potential configurations that seem to make sense.
The first is the most obvious.
LT -- Flowers; LG -- Schwartz; C -- Richburg; RG -- Jerry; RT -- Pugh
What happens, though, if the Giants -- despite not yet committing to the idea -- believe that Pugh is best-suited long-term to be a guard and decide that despite the Beatty injury it is in their best interest to go ahead and make that move? Then perhaps you wind up with this:
LT -- Flowers; LG -- Pugh; C -- Richburg; RG -- Jerry; RT -- Schwartz
The Flowers-Pugh-Richburg might well be the anchor of your Giants offensive line of the future.
Of course, we know that playing a rookie at left tackle is frought with risk. Look no farther than last year. Jake Matthews, the sixth overall pick by the Atlanta Falcons, surrendered seven sacks, 44 hits or hurries and had the worst Pro Football Focus grade of any offensive tackle, a miserable -36.8. Second overall pick Greg Robinson was -24.1 at left tackle for the St. Louis Rams. On the flip side, Taylor Lewan, the 11th overall pick, was +2.2 for the Tennessee Titans and surrendered just four sacks.
Maybe someone like Mosley or Jones surprises and takes a job, or ends up with one by default if there are more injuries.
Maybe the Giants go out and sign a free-agent tackle like Jake Long (if his twice-torn ACL will hold up) or Anthony Collins, a seven-year veteran who really struggled in pass protection last season, surrendering only one sack but grading at -12.3 in 643 snaps.
Maybe the Giants add guard depth by signing a capable veteran like Justin Blalock, an eight-year starter for the Atlanta Falcons, or nine-year veteran Rob Sims, who started for the Detroit Lions the past five seasons.
If they stand pat and go with what they have while they try and hold the fort and hope Beatty can make a late-season return the two configurations above seem like the most logical.
Your thoughts, Giants fans?