Dave Gettleman’s plan to turn the New York Giants around in free agency hasn’t been subtle. The two biggest signings come along the offensive line with left tackle Nate Solder and guard Patrick Omameh. There’s been a lot said about the Solder signing, but much less is known about Omameh. He’s a former undrafted free agent who will now be on his fourth team when he joins the Giants for 2018. He’s the type of player where the only information shared along with his signing is that he’s started 45 of his 53 career games. But of course games started isn’t a measure of quality — Ereck Flowers has started 46 games over the past three seasons.
Even the Giants might not be completely sure about what to do with him. He was signed to a three-year/$15 million deal, but just $5.5 of that is guaranteed — $4.5 million of which is a signing bonus. He’ll count for just $2.5 million against the cap in 2018, which isn’t exactly starter money before that number gets bumped up to $6.25 million for each of the following two seasons. If he plays well, the contract is already set up to reward him. But if Omameh doesn’t take over the starter role, the Giants could move on after 2018 and free up $3.15 million on the 2019 cap.
Last season Omameh played 76.3 percent of the snaps for the Jacksonville Jaguars at left guard. It probably would have been more, but he missed three games with a quad injury in the middle of the season.
His film can sometimes show a mixed bag, but there’s certainly upside to solidify the left side of the offensive line next to Solder.
Any offensive lineman in Jacksonville’s main duty is going to be run blocking. Since drafting Blake Bortles, the Jaguars have tried to figure out any way to make Blake Bortles do less. In 2017 the Jags had the most run-heavy offense in the league. This, though, was one of the places Omameh struggled.
One place Omameh can improve is holding his blocks longer. When there were plays made against him, it was typically with a defender able to shed himself near the line of scrimmage.
That was the case on this run against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 3. Omameh (77) was one-on-one against Carl Davis (94) with a run play to his side. Originally the play looked to be designed to the A-gap (to Omameh’s right), but the hole was filled immediately. As fullback Tommy Bohanon and running back Leonard Fournette moved the play to the outside, Davis was able to break away from Omameh and make a play.
These plays aren’t all on Omameh, but the Jaguars did struggle to run up the middle — a reason they allowed him to walk and paid a premium to bring in Andrew Norwell. On runs behind the left guard, the Jaguars averaged just 3.3 yards per carry, per Sharp Football Stats, but again the Jaguars struggled everywhere up the middle.
Omameh isn’t exactly a mauler-type who is going to overpower opposing defenders, but he does move quite well. Below is a pull against Baltimore that opens a lane for a big Fournette gain.
He can also get down the field in the screen game — a focus of Pat Shurmur’s Minnesota offense in 2017. On the play below, he chipped linebacker C.J. Mosley (57) and immediately got out in front of the play. Running back Chris Ivory was tripped up just before Omameh was able to make his block, but with a better block from Keelan Cole (84), Omameh was in position to break the play open 15 yards from the line of scrimmage on the opposite side.
In pass protection, he was much better and even though guards have typically been thought of as run blockers, pass blocking is more important all across the offensive line in a league where “balance” on offense is considered a 60-40 pass-run split.
Omameh held up fairly well against some of the best defensive tackles in the league last season. He was given the next-to-impossible task of defending Aaron Donald in Week 6 of 2017. He got in more good reps than bad ones, which is not an easy feat against arguably the best defensive player in the league.
He did allow a sack to Donald in the second half, but that was really the only time in the game when he got beat. Honestly, it’s hard to hold that against any offensive lineman. Donald was third in the league with 52 pressures per Sports Info Solutions and fourth with 27 quarterbacks hits per NFL GSIS. That’s insane production from a defensive tackle, so if he only beats your guard once in a game, consider that a win.
Below is a play against Geno Atkins in Week 9. Omameh initiated contact off the line and he gave up no ground.
He’s not going to be one to overwhelm with technique, but he does know how to keep his body between the defender and the quarterback. Below is a play against Sheldon Richardson. He’s not exactly balanced on the rep, but he does enough to fight off the handwork by Richardson to keep him from penetrating.
As basic as it is, he also showed the ability to pick up a stunt, which that alone might have made him the best offensive lineman on the 2017 Giants.
This isn’t a home run signing that is automatically going to transform the offensive line. But it does give a level of competency that really wasn’t there before with upside of more. It’s a solid low-risk move, especially with how the money is structured. Omameh should be the Giants’ starting left guard to open the season and if he’s not, that means there’s a better option on the table and that would also be a good thing.