The NFL Draft tea leaves are pointing toward one of two things for the New York Giants with the 11th overall pick — an impact defender or an offensive lineman.
Hall of Famer Bill Polian, a six-time NFL Executive of the Year, knows which path he would choose.
“The key to the Giants is the offensive line. Unless they get that solved the weapons won’t mean a thing,” Polian said on the Colin Cowherd Podcast. “They have got to protect him and they’ve got to be able to block for the run. That’s job 1 and I suspect they’ll address it in the draft.”
The Giants spent three draft picks on the offensive line a season ago — left tackle Andrew Thomas (No. 4 overall), Tackle Matt Peart (Round 3/No. 99) and guard Shane Lemieux (Round 5/No. 150).
The line showed some promise, but still finished 21st in Football Outsiders Adjusted Line Yards run-blocking stat and 27th in FO’s Adjusted Sack Rate measure. Having lost starting right guard Kevin Zeitler due to salary cap constraints and with Cameron Fleming, last season’s starting right tackle, not having been re-signed, the Giants now have to re-configure that side of their line.
They added wide receivers Kenny Golladay and John Ross, along with veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph in free agency in hopes of boosting last season’s 31st-ranked offense.
They have re-structured the offensive coaching staff to help that young line. Rob Sale is the new offensive line coach. Freddie Kitchens moves from tight ends coach to senior offensive assistant with responsibility for helping Sale. The Giants have also added Pat Flaherty, the team’s offensive line coach during the Tom Coughlin years, as a consultant.
Now, they need to find more talent.
Would they use the 11th pick on offensive tackle Penei Sewell if he somehow falls to that spot, which might not be inconceivable if five quarterbacks are taken in the first 10 picks, or Rashawn Slater of Northwestern?
Will they wait until Day 2, where several potential starting guards should be available?
We get our answer in just a few short weeks.