The New York Giants are counting on massive improvement from a group of young offensive linemen who struggled mightily in 2020. One of those players is Shane Lemieux, who appears destined to be the team’s left guard this season.
Let’s take a closer look at Lemieux as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp.
Contract: Year 2 of four-year, $3.642 million rookie contract | 2021 cap hit: $866,785
Career to date
Drafted in Round 5 last year, Lemieux was the last of the three rookie offensive linemen the Giants selected to see playing time. First-round pick Andrew Thomas was an immediate starter at left tackle. Third-round pick Matt Peart began rotating in at right and left tackle when he played 12 snaps Week 4 vs. the San Francisco 49ers. Aside from two snaps at fullback, Lemieux did not play until left guard Will Hernandez went on the COVID-19 reserve list before a Week 8 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Lemieux started every game the rest of the way, staying in the lineup when Hernandez returned to action. That, though, does not necessarily mean Lemieux was good.
Analytics from both Pro Football Focus and Sports Info Solutions would, in fact, tell you that Lemieux was horrendous.
Sports Info Solutions uses a stat called ‘Points Earned.’ Among 80 guards who played more than 300 snaps (Lemieux played 504) Lemieux was last in total points earned (2.87), last in Points Earned Per Snap (0.006), 79th in Points Above Average (-10.26) and last in points Above Average Per Snap (-0.022).
Lemieux was also last, per SIS, in Points Above Replacement (-9.0) and Wins Above Replacement (-0.3). SIS also had Lemieux with -1.3 Points Earned as a pass blocker, the only qualifying guard to post a negative number. As a run blocker, Lemieux was 74th, with 4.23 Points Earned.
It feels like piling on at this point, but Pro Football Focus isn’t kinder.
Among 86 qualifying guards graded by PFF, Lemieux’s 32.2 grade was a league worst. His 16.9 pass blocking grade was also last in the league and his 45.3 run blocking score was 82nd. Lemieux’s pass blocking efficiency score of 94.7 was also 82nd. Lemieux allowed 25 pressures. Among the 24 players who allowed that many or more, only one played fewer snaps.
Bluntly, there are no individual statistical measurements one could use to argue that Lemieux played well in 2020.
As a team, though, the 6-10 Giants did go 5-4 in the games Lemieux started. There is also the argument that rookie left tackle Andrew Thomas played better with Lemieux next to him. Only 21 of the 57 pressures Thomas allowed in 2020 came with Lemieux starting.
Considering that the Giants, who were rotating Peart into games, did not play Lemieux until they had to it’s fair to wonder if they knew he wasn’t really ready for regular snaps. in his first start, vs. Tampa Bay, Lemieux surrendered five pressures in 49 pass blocking snaps had a 12.1 pass blocking grade.
Things did not get a whole lot better. Lemieux actually posted a 0.0 pass blocking grade in Week 15 against the Cleveland Browns.
So, why have the Giants basically handed Lemieux the left guard job? And, why should we believe that will end up being a good idea?
What it basically comes down to is you have to believe that starting as a rookie was too much too soon for the fifth-round pick. And that, as pre-draft scouting reports indicated, it would take time for Lemieux to adjust to the pro game.
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com wrote that Lemieux “should be OK as a run blocker early on, but his issues in pass protection might not be quickly fixed and could push him into the ‘good backup, eventual starter’ category.”
Jacob infante of Draft Wire wrote that “Lemieux is a reliable blocker who plays with a high motor and a mean streak. He can stand to improve as a pass protector, and his technique can be sharpened up a bit, but he has the potential to develop into a solid starter with time.”
So, the scouting reports — and the Giants — are asking you to show patience with Lemieux. He is one of those young offensive linemen the Giants believe in, and need to be right about.
There were signs of progress toward the end of the season. PFF graded Lemieux in the 50s in three of the Giants’ last four games, his best PFF scores of the season. His best pass blocking efficiency score, a 98.3, came in the season’s final game.
Lemieux’s Relative Athletic Score shows the tools he has to work with, and the things he and the Giants need to work around.
New offensive line coach Rob Sale has a reputation for developing players. Let’s see if he can help raise Lemieux’s level of play to at least adequate in 2021.