By using a third-round pick (No. 67 overall) in the 2022 NFL Draft on Joshua Ezeudu, the New York Giants are telegraphing that — eventually — they expect the former North Carolina offensive lineman to have a key role on their line.
What might that role be in 2022? Let’s discuss that as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the Giants’ 90-man roster.
By the numbers
Position: Offensive line
Contract: Year 1 of four-year, $5.485 million rookie deal | Guaranteed at sign: $1.169 million 2022 cap hit: $997,368
Career to date
Versatility was Ezeudu’s calling card at North Carolina. Ezeudu played 481 snaps at left tackle, 1,247 at left guard, 171 at right tackle and one at right guard for the Tar Heels. He would sometimes swap positions during drives.
“He’s a big man, and it’s [the ability to switch positions within games] impressive,” said Giants GM Joe Schoen. “Again, he could play multiple spots not only on a week-to-week basis but within a game, within drives. So it’s very impressive, and he’s an outstanding kid.”
North Carolina offensive coordinator Phil Longo called Ezeudu the “everything guy” for the Tar Heels.
“Josh Ezeudu is an incredibly versatile OLineman,” Longo said. “He really gave us the opportunity to try and play the best five guys on the OLine as much as much as we could.
“EZ made that a lot easier for us. He could play left tackle, right tackle, left guard, right guard. He basically played anything and everything we needed him to play outside of center. He was our everything guy.”
The thought when the Giants drafted Ezeudu in Round 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft was that Ezeudu would likely compete with Shane Lemieux and others for the starting job at left guard. That might end up being the case, but right now it looks like Lemieux has the inside track on that job.
Meanwhile, Ezeudu displayed his versatility during OTAs by taking some first-team reps at left tackle as Andrew Thomas continues to rehab from his second ankle surgery in as many offseasons.
It’s worth pointing out the Sports Info Solutions pre-draft scouting report on Ezeudu:
Ezeudu projects as a swing tackle at the next level in any scheme, with his best position being on the left side. He can back up at guard, but will need to get a little stronger in his lower body to truly have the strength to consistently anchor against interior defenders. His reactive athleticism in pass pro and fluidity in space on run plays will allow him to assist in any facet of the offense. He needs refinement in both areas, but with development early in his career, there’s no reason to think he can’t at least be a 3- or 4-position backup along the offensive line.
GM Joe Schoen said this when the Giants selected Ezeudu:
“He’s got guard-tackle flex. Again, we’ll bring him in, I’m not sure, not going to say exactly where we’re going to start him, but we like the versatility that he can play guard, he can play tackle, compete to start probably inside, with outside flex.”
I still believe the Giants would like to see Ezeudu play primarily inside. In the first year of a three-year, $18.3 million contract ($11.4 million guaranteed), Mark Glowinski is locked in at right guard. If Lemieux is going to start the season as the left guard, though, perhaps the Giants are prepping Ezeudu to begin his career as a multi-position backup. We will have to see how that unfolds once we get to training camp.