Last but definitely not least in our summer-long series of stories profiling the players the New York Giants will bring to training camp is talented veteran guard Kevin Zeitler.
Let’s take a closer look at the Giants’ best offensive lineman.
Position: Right guard
Contract: Year 2 of three-year, $32 million deal | Guaranteed: $10 million | 2020 cap hit: $12.5 million
How he got here
Zeitler was traded to the Giants before the 2019 season by the Cleveland Browns in exchange for defensive end Olivier Vernon, a player the Giants no longer wanted.
Zeitler has never made a Pro Bowl, but that’s more because he has generally played for bad teams than because of his ability. There should be little question he is a Pro Bowl-caliber player.
Alexander was Zeitler’s offensive line coach with the Cincinnati Bengals. He recently told the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast that he was “furious” when the Bengals let Zeitler leave as a free agent.
“He is the team leader that you want. I’m going to be honest with you, when we let him go with the Bengals, which I was furious about, that hurt us. And it hurt Cleveland when he left there. To me, I thought that was a great pickup by the Giants.
“He’s the type of guy that you build a championship around. He’s a winner.”
In his eight seasons in the NFL, Kevin Zeitler’s pass-blocking has graded in the top 15 seven times among all qualifying Guards.— PFF NY Giants (@PFF_Giants) June 8, 2020
His best season to date was in 2018, when he was PFF’s highest graded pass-blocking Guard with a 91.7 pic.twitter.com/0zJgSFX4wu
Zeitler is a quality player. Aside from his rookie season, when he surrendered four sacks, he hasn’t allowed more than three sacks in a season. He has allowed only 17 sacks in eight seasons.
Zeitler has been a better pass blocker than run blocker throughout his career, but that doesn’t mean he is a slouch blocking for ball carriers. In 2019, he was sixth in run blocking per Pro Football Focus among 34 guards who played at least 80 percent of their team’s offensive snaps.
Zeitler is only 30 and works as hard or harder than anyone else at his craft. There is little reason at this point to expect a drop off in his performance.
Zeitler could also wind up lining up next to Giants’ first-round pick Andrew Thomas, helping him as he adjusts to playing in the NFL.