As things stand now, the New York Giants have a pressing need to address the offensive tackle position early in the 2020 NFL Draft.
But does that have to mean selecting an offensive tackle with the fourth overall pick? There are a number of draft day scenarios swirling and several of them mean that the Giants might not — or would not — get the opportunity to select one of the top tackle prospects.
Therefore we should be getting familiar with the tackle prospects who will likely make up the next tier of players. This is a very good tackle class and the Giants could find a player with starting upside outside of the first round. TCU’s Lucas Niang should be among the tackles in the conversation for the next tier after the elite prospects. The 6-foot-7, 328 pound tackle has impressive movement skills and has made strides over the last two seasons, and he could be a player to target at the top of the second round.
Prospect: Lucas Niang, OT, TCU
Games Watched: vs. OSU (2018) vs. Texas (2018), vs. Purdue (2019), vs. Texas (2019
Red Flags: Injury - torn labrum (2019)
Games Played: 44 (28 starts)
Best: Frame, athleticism, range
Worst: Urgency, technique
Projection: A starting right tackle in an offense which uses zone blocking concepts.
(Niang is the right tackle, number 77)
TCU right tackle Lucas Niang has very good size, length, and athleticism for an offensive tackle at the NFL level. Niang shows good quickness off of the snap, getting into his blocks with little wasted motion. Niang is good in pass protection, with good athleticism to match up with edge rushers. He has very good lower-body mobility and fluidity in his kick slide, easily getting depth and width. He also uses his length to his advantage in pass protection, showing remarkable improvement in his hand usage over his junior and senior seasons.
Niang is also a capable run blocker, making good use of his athleticism to get defenders flowing in zone blocking schemes and blocking at the second level. Niang shows a very good ability to get ahead of, and block, screen plays and moves well in the open field. He also shows good pad level for a taller tackle with good knee and hip bend.
Niang needs to continue to refine and be more consistent in his technique. In particular he needs to be more crisp and urgent in his jump sets. Likewise, Niang also needs to be more aggressive in throwing his punch to really disrupt defenders early in their rush. At this point Niang doesn’t seem well suited for a man-gap blocking scheme and doesn’t create much movement on the line of scrimmage when blocking downhill.
Overall Grade: 6.4 - A has several better than average traits you can win with and the upside to be a starter in the NFL. [Grading Scale]
Lucas Niang looks to be an ascending tackle prospect. He has a big, long, and athletic frame but doesn’t seem to suffer from many of the issues which can plague taller tackles. He has a remarkably fluid and flexible lower body, allowing him to play with good pad level for a tall tackle. While he should be able to play on either end of the offensive line, Niang projects best at right tackle simply because of the improvement he has made at the position over the last two seasons. Initially, Niang projects best in a scheme built on zone blocking principles which take advantage of his athleticism and movement skills.
It would be good to see him play with a more aggressive mentality. He has all the physical traits a coach could ask for and a more aggressive play style could come with greater comfort in his technique. Niang is a high-upside player and should be a starter early in his career.
It is worth noting that Niang played through a torn labrum in the first half of the season, but had his season ended by surgery to repair the injury.