The New York Giants, with the selection of Andrew Thomas No. 4 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, have finally found a long-term left tackle.
It’s been far too long since the Giants could be content with the long-term plan at the left tackle position. The days of Ereck Flowers are in the rear view mirror. Thomas is an experienced tackle with 26 starts at left tackle and 15 at right tackle for the Georgia Bulldogs. He was a team captain in 2019 and won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, while being named as a First-Team All-American. Accolades weren’t a new thing for Thomas last season; he was First-Team All-SEC, while being a second-team All-American in 2018, and he was a First-Team All-Freshman in 2017. In high school, Thomas was a U.S. Army All-American selection, while also being a talented nose tackle on the defensive side of the football. Thomas also has athletic lineage as his uncle Darrell played college basketball at Samford, and his uncle Emmanuel played college basketball at Stephen F. Austin.
There is a lot to like about Thomas. He’s incredibly powerful, long, and he’s a dominant run blocker. A lot of buzz surrounded Tristan Wirfs Combine performance, which makes sense, but Thomas still had a respectable Combine, testing 85th percentile in the broad jump and 80th percentile in the vertical jump.
Thomas uses his length well, and we can see that he has 36 ⅛” arms, which is in the 97th percentile for tackles. Thomas’ best traits are his ability to block/seal in the run game and his imposing anchor that he uses to halt bull-rushes. Thomas’ punch is powerful, and when combined with his lower leg drive, he clears paths for running backs. Does a solid job locating and positioning himself at the second level against linebackers. In pass protection, I love how Thomas can recoil his hips and reset his anchor, bringing as much power through his hips and unleashing it onto opponents, when his technique is squared away.
I do have some concerns with Thomas. He can get too high and I wish he had more balance. He doesn’t consistently control the breast-plate of defenders; allows his hands to get outside, which leads him to “tonging.” His footwork is a bit herky-jerky sometimes, and his length masked some issues against speed. He tends to bend at the waist too much which assists in his balance issues, which are only evident when he allows his pad level to rise. Thomas’ foot-speed isn’t great, and it’s not as fluid as Jedrick Wills. I would love for Thomas’ strike placement to be more consistent, which would really maximize him as a prospect. These technical issues aren’t terrible and can be corrected with different coaching and development, especially as he acclimates to the speed of the NFL. Lunging at the waist will be exposed in the NFL and it also hinders balance, so Thomas will have to clean that up as well.
What the Giants are getting
The pick makes sense for New York. A player who can conduct himself at both tackle positions, while Nate Solder is still under contract and on the team. The Giants are receiving a powerful, young, offensive tackle who can effectively play on the right and left side. Thomas’ length, power, lower body drive, and ability to win in the run game, and in the passing game, are incredibly valuable. He does need some development and refinement on his technique, which I feel can be corrected by Marc Colombo. Thomas has a high floor and he should be a good starting left tackle for many years.