When the New York Giants drafted Matt Peart out of UConn at the end of Round 3 a season ago, the theory went like this — give the uber-athletic a year to hone his body and adjust to the NFL game and then he would be ready to be a starting NFL right tackle.
The Giants head into the 2021 season appearing to be all-in on putting that theory to the test. Will that turn out to be a good idea or a bad one?
This is part of what UConn coach Randy Edsall told me after the Giants drafted Peart:
“They [Giants] understood the kind of player that they were going to get and the value that was there when he was available. I think it’s just a great situation for him and what they’re looking for him to do. They’re going to end up reaping the benefits.”
What might that benefit be?
“If Matt can stay healthy I think you can see a 12- to 15-year player in the NFL,” Edsall said.
Let’s discuss Peart as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp in just three weeks.
Position: Offensive tackle
Contract: Year 2 of four-year, $4.329 million rookie contract | 2021 cap hit: $1.022 million
Career to date
Peart played far more, and for a long stretch probably far better, than anticipated in 2020. Peart was really at the center of Joe Judge’s much-discussed philosophy of rotating offensive linemen, one that neither original offensive line coach Marc Colombo nor Dave DeGuglielmo seemed overly fond of.
Peart began rotating at right and left tackle in Week 4 vs. the Los Angeles Rams, and played double-digit snaps in eight of the 11 games for which he was eligible from that point on. He missed one game due to COVID-19, and did not play Week 15 vs. the Cleveland Browns or Week 17 vs. the Dallas Cowboys.
Peart ended up playing 150 offensive snaps. That’s only 15 percent, but it was spread throughout the season enough to expose Peart to many different situations and types of defensive linemen. It should be of great benefit to him in 2021.
Peart played solidly until going on the COVID-19 reserve list, posting Pro Football Focus grades above 60.0 in six of eight games. He did not allow a sack until his post-COVID struggles in his final two appearances.
We should not discount Peart’s final two appearances, in which he posted grades in the 40s and allowed two sacks and five total pressures in just 21 pass-blocking snaps. Nor the fact that he was a DNP in two of the Giants’ final four games.
We simply don’t know how much COVID-19 impacted him physically, and nearly two weeks of inactivity could not have helped. It is also fair to wonder if DeGuglielmo, who freely admitted that he had little use for rookies, had an adverse effect on Peart. I don’t know that for certain, but I do believe it is a fair point to raise for discussion.
In my view, though, Peart’s play from Weeks 4-13, during which he allowed just four pressures and no sacks in 51 pass-blocking snaps, should make Giants fans optimistic that Peart will be able to handle full-time right tackle duties in 2021.
The Giants need to be right about Peart. Honestly, I don’t think anyone wants to see a heavy dose of Nate Solder at right tackle.