It is pretty well understood that the New York Giants need to continue to upgrade their offensive line.
But not only do they need better play from their starting five linemen, they also need to get some young players in their developmental pipeline.
Depending on how the first three picks of the NFL draft shake out, the Giants could find themselves selecting one of the top three offensive tackles in the draft, Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, Iowa Tristan Wirfs, or Alabama’s Jedrick Wills. Thomas is a left tackle while the latter two play right tackle, but while that might have mattered in the past, the reality of today’s NFL is that both left and right tackles are “cornerstone” positions.
Of course it’s also possible the Giants look to bolster their defense with the fourth overall pick, or perhaps even trade out of the selection if they believe there isn’t much drop-off in value into the middle of the first round. If so, let’s take a look at some of the offensive tackles that could be available later in the first round or into the second day that the Giants could consider.
Austin Jackson (USC)
If the Giants are looking for a developmental tackle with high-upside and every physical tool at his disposal, USC’s Austin Jackson should definitely catch their attention. Jackson has a prototypical NFL frame at 6-foot-6, long arms, and 310 pounds he has adequate thickness. Equally important, he has good movement skills to deal with speed rushers in pass protection as well as get out in space to run block at the second level or block on screen passes.
Jackson’s development will be concerned with improving his functional strength and playing with more power. Hopefully that could be cleaned up with good coaching on his technique, but his frame has the room to add muscle mass if necessary.
Prince Tega Wanogho (Auburn)
Wanogho has the athletic tools to be a starting tackle in the NFL, but he isn’t yet a finished product. A former basketball player, he has good movement skills to mirror pass rushers, but needs to get better a bending his knees and striking accurately to unlock his power.
He is a better fit in a zone running scheme — which is fine, because so is Saquon Barkley — using his athleticism to win with angles as well as strength to create movement. Interestingly, he has experience all over the offensive line in Auburn’s offense and, at times, has even aligned in bunch sets to block for screen passes. He should be able to slot in whichever tackle position his team needs.
Jack Driscoll (Auburn)
A former UMass offensive tackle, Driscoll transferred to a much higher level of competition and has acquitted himself well in the SEC. He doesn’t have the size or quite the same athleticism as these other tackles, but he is a tough, scrappy blocker who will do what he needs to in order to win. He is a bit undersized at 6-foot-5, 294 pounds, but while his upper body is a bit thin, he makes up for it with a strong foundation.
Driscoll moves well and plays with good leverage, putting that thick lower body to good use to create movement in the run game and not get pushed around as a pass protector. As with Wanogho, Driscoll will need some coaching up on technique (pretty much all rookie OL do), but coaches will definitely like his competitive toughness.
Mekhi Becton (Louisville)
Holy hell, this is one massive human being. That’s the first thing you will notice watching Becton, who stands 6-foot-7 and weighed in at just shy of 370 pounds in previous years, and a relatively svelte 350 in 2019. He is able to play with every bit of the size and power that frame suggests — he absolutely envelops EDGE rushers and can be a mauler in the run game. But for all his size, you can forget the “hog molly” label, Becton is truly a dancing elephant out there at left tackle. He is a remarkably easy mover and capable of executing zone concepts as well as dealing with speed rushers.
The issues with Becton will be continuing to refine his technique to fully unleash his potential, and working with him on the nutrition and strength and conditioning side of things to make sure his body composition doesn’t get out of control.