Andrew Thomas’s rookie season was undeniably rocky, though much better at the end than the beginning. The New York Giants, having drafted Thomas No. 4 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft in the hopes that he could become a franchise left tackle, have a lot riding Thomas becoming the player they thought he could become.
Pro Football Focus thinks Thomas will show in Year 2 why the Giants believed so strongly in him, naming Thomas one of six 2020 rookies likely to break out in 2021. PFF writes:
Things did take a turn for the better for Thomas in the middle of the year. While he was still imperfect, we weren’t seeing him extend on his punch in pass protection as often as he was before. He was more patient with it. That played a significant part in his pass-blocking grade jumping from 45.3 through Week 7 to 63.5 from Week 8 on.
And for those concerned about the lofty pressure total Thomas gave up in Year 1, not every quality pass-protecting tackle in the NFL came out and had a hot start to their NFL career.
Just as PFF’s Ben Linsey wrote, the Giants would have taken Wirfs 10 times out of 10 knowing what they know now. At the end of the day, though, all is not lost with the former Georgia Bulldog. He is still more than capable of climbing out of the hole he dug himself after his notable improvement in the middle of the 2020 campaign.
Two points to note there. Many analysts thought the Giants would draft Tristan Wirfs, and Wirfs did have the best rookie season of the four tackles taken at the top of Round 1 (Mekhi Becton, Jedrick Wills being the others). Anyone connected with the Giants would have taken the rookie season Wirfs had, but I’m not sure you can say with any certainty they would have drafted Wirfs 10 of 10 times if given a chance at a do-over. We will see down the road which of these tackles has the best career. With only one season of evidence it is too soon to pass judgment.
The other point is that when PFF writes about not every tackle “having a hot start to their NFL career,” the player they are specifically referring to is Philadelphia Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson. He was the No. 4 overall pick in 2013. Here is PFF’s chart showing the similarities between the rookie seasons of Thomas and Johnson:
Johnson has gone on to become one of the best right tackles in the NFL, having been named to the Pro Bowl three times and being selected All-Pro in 2017. When he is healthy, Johnson is as good as any right tackle in the game.
The Giants are hoping Thomas’s career follows a similar path.
What is your confidence level in Andrew Thomas as the Giants’ long-term answer at left tackle?
This poll is closed
Hopeful, but not confident
He’s already a bust! (thanks, Gettleman!)