As late as Monday evening, reports were that while they had competition for him the New York Giants were still the likely free agent landing spot for All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell. Well, when Tuesday morning arrived we were greeted with the news that Tom Coughlin and the Jacksonville Jaguars had swooped in and stolen Norwell, making him the NFL’s highest-paid guard.
This hurts, of course, since the assumption was that GM Dave Gettleman wanted to make Norwell, who he signed originally as an undrafted free agent with the Carolina Panthers, the cornerstone of the re-construction of the Giants’ offensive line. It does not, however, make the offseason a failure or mean the Giants won’t be able to improve their line.
Here is a look at some of the Giants’ options.
Justin Pugh — The assumption has been that the Giants did not have the cap space to sign both Norwell and Pugh. Well, now they won’t get Norwell. Could they retain Pugh? They can try, perhaps with an incentive-laden deal based on games played given his injury history. It still seems more likely that Pugh lands elsewhere.
Cameron Fleming and Chris Hubbard — Fleming [New England Patriots] and Hubbard [Pittsburgh Steelers] are good players who have had only part-time roles with their respective teams. Either of them could fill the right tackle slot for the Giants. Fleming is 25, and Hubbard 27.
I have no issue with Norwell's contract. Those that can block these nightmare interior rushers are worth it.— Dan Hatman (@Dan_Hatman) March 13, 2018
That said, this IOL class is very good, so if you were hoping your team would land Norwell, just wait until draft weekend.
Missing out on Norwell will quickly turn speculation to Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, universally considered the best offensive lineman in the 2018 NFL Draft class. Would the Giants dare to select a guard at No. 2? Would they trade down a couple of spots and gamble that Nelson is still on the board for them, if he is their target?
Will Hernandez [UTEP] and Isaiah Wynn [Georgia] are also top guard prospects who could come off the board late in Round 1 or early in Round 2. Austin Corbett [Nevada] is another name to watch.
Center prospects include James Daniels [Iowa] and Billy Price [Ohio State], each of whom could be selected before the Giants pick at No. 34. Frank Ragnow [Arkansas] and Mason Cole [Michigan] could be Day 2 possibilities.
Aside from Mike McGlinchey of Notre Dame, there are few plug-and-play left tackle options. There a number of right tackle candidates, or players who could develop into NFL left tackles. Tyrell Crosby [Oregon], Brian O’Neill [Pitt], Connor Williams [Texas], Kolton Miller [UCLA] are just a few of them.