The offensive tackle position has been a liability for the New York Giants for way too long. The team has tried to fix these holes through the draft and with free agency, but, to the dismay of Giants’ fans, both were to no avail. The experiment of Ereck Flowers withered with the windy gusts at MetLife Stadium, and Nate Solder’s first two years have been underwhelming, but the Giants hope to rectify this issue in the coming off season.
There are higher level offensive tackles that will be available in free agency; players like the Titans’ Jack Conklin and Green Bay’s Bryan Bulaga are two options that will command big paydays. Both of these options have experience playing right tackle, which is a need for the Giants following the potential departure of Mike Remmers. Nick Gates played well in spot start duty, but the team will still be looking for a starter, and depth pieces to help fill out this roster. These depth pieces, with a new coaching staff and style, could develop into spot starters in the future, so let’s peruse through potential free agents at the tackle position that will not break the bank, but could possibly make the roster.
Shon Coleman, San Francisco 49ers
Coleman, a 6-foot-5, 310-pound former third-round pick by the Browns out of Auburn, was a standout in the SEC. With 35 ½ inch arms and 10 ⅝ inch hands, 86th and 80th percentile respectively at the tackle position, one can easily see the intrigue that would surround this player, especially since he is only 28 years old. Coleman was slated to be the swing tackle for the 49ers this season, but a fractured fibula and dislocated ankle landed him on Injured Reserve in the preseason.
Many of the Browns’ beat reporters felt that Coleman would either take over Joe Thomas’ left tackle position after his retirement or that he would start at right tackle, after a solid season of playing more than 1,000 snaps for Cleveland in his sophomore campaign. The Browns went in a different direction and traded Coleman to the 49ers before final cuts. Coleman spent most of 2018 inactive for the 49ers and the rest of 2019 on the IR, so his cost is inevitably low, and he possesses solid draft pedigree and a successful track record in college. He’s a tough player, who has beaten cancer, and his length doesn’t hinder his ability to run block. He’s not the strongest, the most athletic, and he bends at the waist too much in pass protection, but he’s a solid, low cost, addition to a team and he has a lot to prove going into 2020.
Cornelius Lucas, Chicago Bears
The 29-year-old, former UDFA out of Kansas State, had his best season to date for the Bears. According to Pro Football Focus, the 6-foot-9, 328-pound Lucas allowed only 12 pressures and one sack in 297 pass blocking attempts ... with Mitchell Trubisky as his quarterback. Lucas also ranked 32nd in blocking efficiency/allowed pressures and 36th in pass blocking while seeing action in 15 games in 2019. The Lions, Rams, and Bears all considered him for their swing tackle positions and he executed that role at a solid level for the Bears, so I feel like the Giants could do a lot worse than kicking the tires on Lucas. The market will dictate what a player like Lucas makes. If it’s reasonable, the Giants should look in this direction.
Roderick Johnson, Houston Texas
Johnson is a 6-foot-6, 306-pound 24-year-old former Florida State Seminole who was drafted by the Browns in the fifth round of the 2017 draft. I remember evaluating Johnson when I was writing for Inside the Pylon. He was long (36-inch arms — wow), skinny, and probably should have gone back to school, for he seemed to lack any center of gravity, which really hindered his ability to dominate at the point of attack. Well, fast forward three years and he’s starting for a playoff team in Houston. Rookie first-round selection Tytus Howard was hurt early in the season and Johnson filled in at right tackle for the majority of the season. According to PFF, with 226 passing attempts, Johnson surrendered 15 pressures and 3 sacks while grading 82nd in pass blocking efficiency/pressures allowed. He has a lot of issues with balance and strength, due to his frame, but he still possesses intriguing qualities that can be developed in the right environment. Giants’ new offensive line coach, Marc Colombo, is used to developing younger players with unique skill sets and builds. Johnson possesses said youth, and is in the 90th percentile for his wing span, arm length, and hand size. Technical issues must be corrected, and strength must be added, but he’s an interesting player that may be acquired on the cheap.
David Sharpe, Las Vegas Raiders
Sharpe is 6-foot-6, 343 pounds. Yes, you read that correctly — 343 pounds. He is more than a mountain of a man at tackle, he is the moon. Being this large has a lot of drawbacks; he is heavy footed, stiff in the lower half, and lacks even marginal athletic testing numbers (4th percentile athlete at the combine ... yikes. He possesses size, length, and strength in a vacuum, albeit his bench press number was abysmal at the combine. The former Florida Gator played the most snaps in his career in 2019, and his best run blocking rating according to Pro Football Focus, while playing in six games as one of the swing tackles. Conditioning is obviously an issue for Sharpe, and he carries unnecessary weight in his midsection. If he could be put on a weight management program, his speed and technique could increase. Sharpe will not be garnering a big contract, so bringing him in and seeing if he can improve his conditioning isn’t a terrible idea. He is a low risk, medium upside player who can be brought in and serve a role in short yardage situations.
Mike Remmers, New York Giants
Ahhh, a familiar name and a player that I thought played in a solid manner during his 2019 campaign in East Rutherford. PFF had the 6-foot-5, 310-pound Remmers rated as the 59th best pass blocking tackle and 80th best run blocker. Playing on a one-year, $2.5 million dollar contract, he was able to start 14 games and stayed relatively healthy, which has been a challenge for Remmers. I believe the Giants can do worse than resigning him and having him compete for the starting job once again. I say this fully acknowledging the fact that he allowed 40 pressures, which was 10th among tackles, but second on the team behind Solder, who allowed the most in the league with 50. Not a great look, yet he only was responsible for three sacks, with Nate Solder allowing 11. Is that the product of Solder being on the blindside of Daniel Jones and Eli Manning? Possibly. Either way, competent tackles in the NFL are very rare. It’s easy to want and hope that the Giants can sign a right tackle or draft a right tackle and still address all the other needs on this roster, but that’s not always feasible, even with the abundant amount of cap space that the Giants possess. I’m not sure Remmers would accept another “prove it” deal after playing most of the 2019 season healthy. But if he did and came back to the Giants, I don’t feel like that’s the worst decision the Giants would make, especially if they supplement the position with a high draft pick for the future. Would he be the long-term solution at 30 years old with an injury history? No, but he would make excellent depth and be a better starter than a lot of other players that are available at a cheaper price tag.