The issues along the New York Giants’ offensive line have were discussed ad nauseam since Kevin Zeiter’s departure. New York had the coaching hubris to suggest there wasn’t an issue. Still, the preseason alluded to an unfortunate truth - all five of the projected starters are relatively unproven, and the depth poses concern.
The retirements of Zach Fulton and Joe Looney made the problem worse. The Giants made a pair of trades with AFC North teams with less than two weeks to go before opening kick-off. They acquired 2018 first-round pick Billy Price from the Bengals for B.J. Hill and a seventh-round selection. The next day they traded a fourth-round pick for 2020-fourth round guard Ben Bredeson, a fifth-round pick, and a seventh-round selection. The acquisition of Bredeson was a necessary move to improve the immediate depth, and Bredeson has the upside to start on this line.
Bredeson is a 23-year-old who allowed only two sacks and 51 pressures through 1,539 pass-blocking reps at the University of Michigan. In his final two years at Michigan, when he was a team captain, he was exceptionally consistent and graded out as one of the highest pass-blocking guards in all of college football.
He’s not a great athlete, and his arms are short, but he does an excellent job positioning himself, fits his hands very well with good technique, and plays with good leverage for a player who is 6-foot-5. His good play strength will help the Giants in the run game, and his anchor in pass protection was impressive at the collegiate level and through preseason against lesser competition.
The Ravens were deep at interior offensive line; they gave Bredeson a shot playing all three positions, although he was predominantly a left guard in college. Baltimore has Kevin Zeitler, Bradley Bozeman, and they just selected Ben Cleveland in the draft, making Bredeson expendable. Shane Lemieux is dealing with a partially torn patellar tendon, and he expects to play - I have no clue how long that will last.
Both Bredeson and Price will play a solid amount of snaps because of injury, incompetence, or platooning the offensive line, an unconventional tactic that Joe Judge employed during the 2020 season. Let’s see how Bredeson will hold up with the Giants in 2021.
Ben Bredeson is No. 67 for the Ravens
Shane Lemieux’s biggest issue in 2020 was his inability to pass block consistently. Far too often, he was routinely defeated off the snap, creating immediate pressure in the face of Daniel Jones and Colt McCoy. The technique from Bredeson seems more sound and confident than Lemieux’s did, but Bredeson is facing much lesser competition than Lemieux was during last year’s regular season. Keep that in mind.
Bredeson is the right guard on this play. Watch how he quickly diagnoses the defender’s chest and attacks after the snap. He lands his inside arm on the breastplate, but the defensive lineman gets his outside arm on Bredeson’s chest. Instead of panicking, Bredeson sits on his hips, uses his anchor, and then takes his own outer arm and removes the contact while readjusting his hands underneath the outer part of the defender’s chest. There’s little to no push from the defender, Bredeson is in control, and the hand adjustments, while not leaning, speak to his overall technique.
At right guard again, we again see good posture and control at the point of attack. Bredeson has an angular build, extends his sub-optimal arms well, readjusts his hands as needed, and has active feet to mirror. He’s at right guard; he takes the contact and locks his arms out to absorb the defender’s power. His hips sink, and his chest is high; his positioning displays confidence, and it’s great to see him excel with his anchor while flowing laterally until it’s safe to disengage.
Bredeson’s 10⅛-inch hands are strong, and he does a good job maximizing his grip strength. He’s aligned at left guard, and he quickly gets his hands into the defender while extending slightly to keep separation. He doesn’t allow a speed to power rush. He shows the confidence to absorb, the power to handle some push, and the hands to combat and fight in the trenches.
I talked about it a lot already, but his ability to readjust his hands throughout a rep is excellent. He’s at right guard again; he gets his hands inside and extends, prompting the defender to locate his inside arm. When this happens, Bredeson adjusts and brings his inside arm back underneath the shoulder pads of the defender. This action reestablishes positioning, and dominance, at the point of attack on the line of scrimmage. Bredeson has short sub-32-inch arms; they’re 31⅛ inches, which is in the first percentile for all offensive lineman, but he uses his arm length well to fend off defensive players.
Aligned at left guard on this play, Bredeson’s anchoring ability upon absorbing contact is really solid. Again, he’s not facing Aaron Donald on this play, but he takes the defender’s power and sits back. We see the power coming through his hips as his back arches, and his hands maintain position. His base is firm, his feet aren’t too narrow or wide, and he doesn’t get bullied, nor does he allow counter rush moves. He also does a good job sinking his 6-5 frame to match the defender.
Bredeson is at right guard on this play, and watch how quickly he shoots his hands inside to establish positioning. He’s aggressive to engage, yet controlled when he engages. We saw Billy Price be a little too undisciplined at times when engaging. He would drop his head and lean, overextending at the waist, leaving vulnerabilities - we don’t see that as often with Bredeson. This could easily be the level of competition or the fact that Price has battled back from several injuries, but Bredeson does seem a bit more poised in this area. His anchor is solid enough to sit back and trust against adequate to solid competition, which is what happens here.
Similar to Price and Lemieux, Bredeson is a dog on the field when run blocking. He has good power and pop in his hands, solid lower leg drive to displace defenders attempting to eat space. The finish and “Nick Gates” mentality are evident in the play below.
Bredeson is aligned at right guard. Like we saw when he pass blocked above, he quickly shoots his hands into the shoulder pads of the defensive tackle. The Ravens traditionally run their offensive line splits tight, but he’s still isolated on the 2-technique. The defender attempts to sink his anchor upon contact to compensate for the good play strength Bredeson initiates with at the point of attack.
However, Bredeson is able to torque his body and use his outside arm to shift the defender’s weight inside while generating power through the ground to drive through the defensive lineman. He gets a bit of help from the right tackle, but it was still a solid display of play strength.
Bredeson is the right guard again here. He’s tasked to down block through the line of scrimmage. He makes contact on the defender’s outside shoulder, gets his inside hand on the midline to turn the defender around, and then continues to drive his feet down the line of scrimmage to disallow separation. He’s also fighting the entire way through the rep, which we love to see. Bredeson and his defender end up at the bottom of the screen, away from the play.
An important part of Jason Garrett’s offense is the ability to pull into space. Power/gap teams feature pulling or pin-pull concepts. We just saw a power/gap play above; only Bredeson was on the backside down, blocking instead of pulling. But a team can’t have a puller without a pinner. These blocks are down blocks that give offensive linemen advantageous angles to eliminate defenders from a play.
If the backside guard pulls to the front side, and there’s a 3-technique on his outside shoulder, then the center may have to block down the line of scrimmage to eliminate the 3-technique blowing the play up from the backside. Bredeson is the pinner on the play above. He’s on the play side at right guard. It’s obvious the left guard is pulling by his cheat alignment on the line of scrimmage - the guy is basically in the backfield. Bredeson does a great job pinning a 1-technique. Bredeson squares the body up, gets in the way of the defensive lineman, and then just down blocks him out of the way. Good positioning on an easier assignment from Bredeson.
Bredeson is aligned uncovered on this play, giving him a clean release to the second level to locate any linebackers. He finds the WILL and doesn’t allow him to use his athletic ability to avoid the block. Although he had a clean release, he is still able to position himself in a great position.
As a puller
It’s essential to see how Bredeson can pull into space because he will more than likely be doing that a lot in this Garrett scheme. He’s an adequate puller from what I saw, but I only saw a handful of reps. In college, I appreciated his ability to pull. He ran more than 800 power/gap run plays in college.
Bredeson does an excellent job on this play as the backside puller in this power/gap run. He quickly finds the penetrating linebacker and embraces the contact while doing a good job falling on top of the defender to eliminate his impact on the play. He is a bit high while pulling yet still ends up getting low into the contact zone, and the defender runs right into the block, but it’s good execution and finishing ability for Bredeson.
Bredeson explodes off his outside foot and is the lead blocker on this rushing attempt. The H-Back, who is usually Kaden Smith coming from the backside lead blocks for the Giants, kicks out the end man on the line of scrimmage, while the backside guard finds the most dangerous man in the alley. These roles are usually reversed in Garrett’s go-to counter runs. Nevertheless, Bredeson locates the linebacker and gets a solid grasp of him past the line of scrimmage.
The execution is off on this play. He gets fooled a bit and doesn’t keep the pull tight, which leads him to stray from the line of scrimmage as he pulls. This looks awkward and leads No. 55 to jump back inside to disrupt the play.
Bredeson has to get a bit tighter and more precise with his path, and he has to know that No. 55 isn’t going to bend around the block, so it’s unnecessary to take that extra step off the line of scrimmage while pulling. It isn’t a huge deal, and it’s only one play, but it’s worth noting.
New York did a solid job with the hand they were dealt, a hand that they were primarily responsible for having. Getting two sub-26-year-old linemen, Bredeson being one that’s under contract for multiple years, are solid moves at this point of the season. Both Price and Bredeson may be forced into snaps early, and their presence gives me much more confidence than did the backup linemen who were released on Tuesday.
This offensive line could still pose issues, but this depth gives the Giants an ability to get creative. Nick Gates has tackle experience, and both Bredeson and Price have played center in the past. This would not be the Giants Plan A, but it’s in the Rolodex of options if Matt Peart and Nate Solder struggle on the right side. The Giants offensive line will quickly be put to the test as they open the season against Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, and the Denver Broncos before traveling down to FedEx Field on a short week to take on Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Jonathan Allen, and the rest of the Football Team in a Thursday Night Football bout.