Here we are again. Right where we have been pretty much every year for the New York Giants over the past decade. Where is that? Well, talking about the dire need to upgrade the offensive line, of course.
Will first-year GM Joe Schoen do a better job in this area than his two predecessors? We are about to find out.
The current depth chart
Starters: LT — Andrew Thomas; LG — Unknown; Center — Jon Feliciano; RG — Mark Glowinski; RT — Unknown
Reserves: Max Garcia, Shane Lemieux, Nick Gates, Ben Bredeson, Matt Gono, Korey Cunningham, Wes Martin, Jamil Douglas, Devery Hamilton, Roy Mbaeteka, Matt Peart
Schoen did everything he could to change the offensive line despite serious salary cap constraints. Nate Solder, Will Hernandez, Billy Price and Matt Skura are out. Jon Feliciano, Mark Glowinski, Max Garcia, Jamil Douglas, Matt Gono and Roy Mbaeteka are in.
There is more work to be done.
“To get our best version of Saquon [Barkley], Daniel [Jones], the entire offense, to your point, that’s going to be very important to get that [the offensive line] right, whether it’s running the ball or pass protection. That will definitely be a priority,” Schoen said during his pre-draft press conference.
“It’s just the need, the value, where that is. You just got to make sure it mirrors up or you’re going to be in the same boat. If you try to force it, it’s not the right value, we’re sitting up here next year saying the same thing. We needed a guard, so we reached for him, but the value wasn’t right.
“You have to make sure when those two meet, they mirror each other, that’s when you’re going to make the best decisions.”
Now, let’s look at the draft.
[Approximations based on NFL Mock Draft Database consensus big board]
The Giants have picks No. 5 and No. 7. If they make both picks, it will be a stunner if one of the top three tackles — Neal, Ekwonu, Cross — is not one of them. Even if Schoen moves back with one of the picks it is hard to imagine him doing so without being assured of landing one of those three tackles.
Everyone, of course, has a favorite among the Big Three. Neal might be the most polished, Ekwonu the most physically intimidating and Cross the smoothest pure pass protector.
In his 2022 NFL Draft Guide, here is how Dane Brugler of The Athletic assesses the top three tackles:
A mauling blocker in gap or zone, Ekwonu generates extraordinary explosion at contact and uses controlled violence to displace or drive defenders, creating more pancakes than IHOP. Although he is guilty of overaggression and oversetting, he showed tremendous improvement as a junior with his balance and handwork in pass protection, proving he can stay outside at tackle. Overall, Ekwonu isn’t a refined blocker and must improve his landmarks, but he is nimble, powerful and should continue to get better and better as his technique and awareness mature at tackle. He has the traits to become an elite run blocker in the NFL and should be a rookie starter at tackle or guard.
A smooth athlete for a massive blocker, Neal bends well in pass protection and continues to rework his feet into position, using controlled hand exchange to keep rushers contained. In the run game, he has strong hands and does well at initial contact as a drive blocker, but his balance and sustain skills start to fade as the play progresses. Overall, Neal lacks elite lateral agility and needs to clean up his leaning, but he is an effective blocker thanks to his rare mix of size, athleticism and flexibility. He projects as an immediate NFL starter with Pro Bowl potential and multi-position versatility.
Cross has above-average foot quickness, body control and functional length to attack, reset and get the job done versus edge rushers. His run blocking is a work in progress (78.9 percent of his college snaps were pass-blocking plays), but he flashes the hand strength and angles to out-leverage defenders. Overall, Cross lacks ideal bulk and power, especially in the run game, but he processes things quickly and shows outstanding hand exchange and movement patterns in pass protection. He projects as an NFL starter with Pro Bowl-level talent thanks to his pass blocking.
Unless the Giants trade back in Round 1 they seem unlikely to have a shot at Linderbaum, Johnson or Green.
Day 2 (Rounds 2-3) possibilities
Tyler Smith, Tulsa [Prospect profile]
Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan [Prospect profile]
Daniel Faalele, Minnesota [Prospect profile]
Darian Kinnard, Kentucky [Prospect profile]
Nicholas Petit-Frere, Ohio State [Prospect profile]
Abraham Lucas, Washington State [Prospect profile]
Smith and Kinnard are both players who could transition to guard in the NFL. Raimann is commonly thought of as a potential fallback at No. 36 should the Giants someone miss out on the tackles in Round 1. Faalele is the 6-foot-8, 384-pound right tackle who draws comparisons to Orlando Brown.
Jamaree Salyer, G, Georgia [Prospect profile]
Dylan Parham, C-G, Memphis [Prospect profile]
Sean Rhyan, UCLA [Prospect profile]
Cole Strange, C-G, Chattanooga [Prospect profile]
Ed Ingram, G, LSU [Prospect profile]
It is no secret my favorite player in this group is Parham, who could be an excellent pick as a development center should he be available in Round 3.
Parham is extremely quick off the ball with the mobility to get out in space and the core strength to latch and drive opponents at the line of scrimmage. He lacks ideal length and can be overpowered at times, but he strikes with a flexible coil and developed nasty streak. Overall, Parham can play too fast at times and loses his bearings, but he has excellent movement skills and understands how to outleverage defenders and sustain the point of attack. He has the talent level to provide immediate interior depth for an NFL team and compete for a starting job, projecting best at center.
Day 3 (Rounds 4-6) possibilities
Rasheed Walker, Penn State [Prospect profile]
Max Mitchell, Louisiana-Lafayette [Prospect profile]
Kellen Diesch, Arizona State
Braxton Jones, Southern Utah
Spencer Burford, UTSA
Dare Rosenthal, Kentucky
Matt Waletzko, North Dakota
Andrew Stueber, Michigan [Prospect profile]
Cordell Volson, North Dakota State [Prospect profile]
Obinna Eze, TCU
Cameron Jurgens, C, Nebraska
Luke Goedeke, G, Central Michigan
Luke Fortner, C, Kentucky
Marquis Hayes, G, Oklahoma
Zach Tom, C, Wake Forest
Thayer Munford, G, Ohio State
Dohnovan West, C, Arizona State
Justin Shaffer, G, Georgia
Alec Lindstrom, C, Boston College [Prospect profile]
Logan Bruss, G, Wisconsin
Chris Paul, G, Tulsa
Cade Mays, G, Tennessee
Lecitus Smith, G, Virginia Tech [Prospect profile]
Joshua Ezeuda, G, North Carolina
Chasen Hines, C, LSU
This is honestly a point in the draft where teams are more likely to find quality center or guard help than they are to find starting-caliber offensive tackles. Jurgens, Tom, Lindstrom and Fortner are among the names to be aware of.