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NFL Draft: Why Forrest Lamp to New York Giants seems unlikely

Why would Big Blue not want the guy who might be the best lineman in the draft?

NFL: Combine
Forrest Lamp
Trevor Ruszkowksi-USA TODAY Sports

Garett Bolles. Ryan Ramczyk. Cam Robinson. If the New York Giants are going to select an offensive lineman in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft, and we don’t know that they will, the expectation is that the pick would be one of those three tackle prospects.

There is, however, one obvious name that is almost always left out of the conversation when talk turns to the Giants, the offensive line, and the 23rd overall pick. Forrest Lamp is considered by many to be the best offensive lineman in this draft class. He is the top-ranked offensive lineman on the Big Blue View Big Board, checking in at No. 17 overall.

Lamp played left tackle at Western Kentucky, and there are more than a few scouts who think he could play any of the five offensive line positions — including left tackle — successfully in the NFL. Pro Football Focus graded Lamp as the best pass-blocking tackle in the country in 2016, with an efficiency rating of 99.1 percent. He did not allow a sack and gave up just five pressures in 403 pass-blocking snaps.

So, why does his name rarely come up in conversations about the Giants?

It’s about those arms.

Lamp has 32¼-inch arms, which places him in the bottom 10 percent in arm length among offensive linemen listed in the Mock Draftable database. Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns has been one of the best left tackles in football for the past decade with 32½-inch arms, so the arm length doesn’t mean Lamp can’t play tackle. It does mean many teams won’t give him the chance.

One thing I have learned over the years in studying the draft and talking to people who know far more about scouting or analyzing players than I do is that all NFL teams have ideal physical profiles for certain positions. They want certain traits. In a terrific video breaking down how to scout and evaluate offensive line play, Offensive Line Consultant Duke Manyweather says that one of those traits that is simply not negotiable for many NFL teams is arm length.

“I think some teams look at the number more than others,” Lamp told Sports Illustrated. “There are teams that told me I’d play tackle. There are teams that told me I’d play guard. There’s teams that told me I’d play just center because of my arms. Some teams believe more in ability than just numbers. It all depends on the team.”

The Giants, historically, are one of those teams for whom arm length is a key trait. The assumption, of course, is that if the Giants are going to use a first-round pick on an offensive lineman it would be a player with left tackle upside. Because of their physical profile, indications are the Giants see Lamp as a guard.

Let’s look at some of the offensive tackle prospects general manager Jerry Reese has drafted, with arm length in parenthesis.

  • Will Beatty (34¾)
  • Matt McCants (353/8)
  • James Brewer (35½)
  • Brandon Mosley (34)
  • Ereck Flowers (34½)

Bobby Hart has 33-inch arms. Remember, though, that when Reese drafted him he said he expected Hart to end up as a guard.

The Justin Pugh exception

Yes, the Giants drafted Justin Pugh in the first round (19th overall) in 2013. Yes, Pugh has 32-inch arms. Yes, he played right tackle for two years. But, no, I don’t believe the drafting of Pugh was an indication that the Giants have changed their physical profile. Plus, the Giants will likely tell you their physical profile worked because Pugh has been better at guard than he was at tackle.

The Pugh pick was, in my mind, simply one of necessity. After not investing a single Day 1 or Day 2 pick in an offensive lineman from 2010-2012 the Giants were watching a once outstanding offensive line age and fall apart. They had no choice but to come out of the 2013 NFL Draft with an offensive lineman who could play quickly, preferably at a tackle spot. After six linemen went in the first 11 picks Pugh, whether he fit the Giants ideal profile or not, was pretty much the last man standing.

Comparing Pugh and Lamp

Pugh is actually a really good comparison for Lamp. Both do have one thing the Giants crave — positional versatility. They also share strikingly similar physical characteristics, and you can even argue that Lamp tests as the better athlete.

Check out their spider charts.

Final thoughts

To draft Lamp, the Giants would either have to be willing to adjust their long-held profile or accept drafting a guy they would apparently prefer to play at guard.

Could the Giants draft Lamp? Sure. Repeat after me — as Ben McAdoo says “never say never.” Maybe the Giants would look at the fact that Pugh and center Weston Richburg can be free agents after the 2017 season and see Lamp as long-term protection.

Is there an argument to be made that perhaps the Giants need to adjust their profile, to value production and what they see on film and be more flexible about physical traits? Sure.

Lamp probably isn’t even going to be available when the Giants select. If he is, though, we might find out if the Giants are willing to change their thinking a bit.

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