Matt Gono is gone, a neck injury perhaps ending his NFL career. Matt Peart wanders around the practice field each day in a red jersey, on the PUP list and likely staying there for at least the first half of the season after surgery to repair a torn ACL. Joshua Ezeudu can play everywhere except center, but might be needed at guard with Shane Lemieux out for a while with a toe/foot injury.
The New York Giants need to find a swing tackle from somewhere to back up Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal. They don’t have the answer on the current 90-man roster. Right? Or, do they?
Devery Hamilton, a second-year player out of Stanford and Duke who spent last season on the Las Vegas Raiders practice squad, played a stunning 70 snaps at left tackle in the Giants’ preseason opener last Thursday against the New England Patriots.
Want another stunning stat? Hamilton was the Giants’ highest-graded player per Pro Football Focus with a 90.1 overall grade. Hamilton had an outstanding 94.1 grade in 24 run-blocking snaps. As a pass blocker, he had a 71.1 grade and allowed just one hurry in 46 pass-blocking reps.
Others might be surprised. Hamilton, though, isn’t one of them.
“That’s fine,” said Hamilton when asked about eyebrows being raised when he turned up as the team’s highest-graded offensive player in Thursday’s game. “I like to take PFF with a grain of salt, try to just listen to my coaches, get their grading. At the end of the day we play offensive line, it’s five guys working as one. If I grade out at a certain level, cool, but at the end of the day the real stats are pass yards, rushing yards, things like that. Making sure that we play as one unit.
“At the end of the day if one guy grades out at 100 and another guy grades out at 50 that doesn’t really get us anywhere. We all need to work together to accomplish our goals.”
Hamilton, of course, believes that the Giants don’t need to look any farther for a swing tackle than the guy who wears No. 62 (him) and is currently auditioning for the role.
“For sure,” Hamilton said. “I can’t really worry about anybody else except for me, doing my job, making sure that I do what I need to do to contribute to this team. I know that I can play in this league, so I’m excited. I can’t really focus on those things. We’ve got two more preseason games and got lots of practices to go. That’s really what I’m focused on, just working day by day so that I can lock that position down. I’m not thinking too much about the future.”
Giants head coach Brian Daboll praised Hamilton’s training camp work.
“He played a lot of plays in that preseason game, and he competed really well,” Daboll said. “He can play tackle. He can play inside. Another smart guy that’s doing everything that we ask him to do.”
Hamilton played three positions in college. He was a left tackle his first two seasons at Stanford, moved to left guard his final two seasons for the Cardinal, then played right tackle for Duke in 2020 as a graduate transfer.
Hamilton has been almost exclusively at left tackle throughout training camp, working with the second and third units as the backup to Thomas. Monday, with the beaten-up Giants down to only 10 healthy offensive linemen, Hamilton showed off his versatility by playing left guard.
“The more different positions I can play the better. Different looks I can get against different guys,” Hamilton said. “Just getting more experience and getting more time on task, that’s really what I’m looking at during this training camp.
“Just showing that versatility, that flexibility. Things are a little different when you’re playing on the inside, things happen quicker, but at the end of the day I’ve just gotta use the talents and skills that I have and make them work.”
Here is a Hamilton scouting report from Emory Hunt of Football Gameplan:
Having stood next to him for several minutes on Monday, I know Hamilton is not 6-foot-9. The Giants list Hamilton at 6-6, and that seems right.
While this is Hamilton’s second season in the NFL, it is his first training camp.
Hamilton had surgery for appendicitis three days before the Raiders began their 2021 training camp. He missed all of training camp, then found himself playing in the team’s first preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers with no practice time. That is hardly a fair way to determine what a player can do.
The Raiders kept him on their practice squad, but eventually released him. The Giants added him to their practice squad in October.
Devery Hamilton played well in Thursday’s preseason game…— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) August 15, 2022
He finished this rep with authority. Hamilton is having a good camp by many accounts, and he could be in a position to win a backend swing OT/OG spot to start the season pic.twitter.com/6AUbUFe9jL
To say the least, Hamilton is enjoying this training camp experience much more.
“Just to be able to be out here this year healthy, going through the full offseason, learning the playbook, getting better at technique, learning what (OL coach) Bobby (Johnson) wants us to do. That’s the part that I’m really excited about,” Hamilton said. “Just the fact that I’m here and I’m healthy and I’ve been running the entire camp. Not like last year, where I really didn’t get a training camp.”
Hamilton was born in Stuttgart, Germany and moved to the U.S. at the age of 9. He graduated from Stanford with degrees in both philosophy and communications, and earned a master’s degree from Duke in management studies.
As smart and as worldly as he is, Hamilton doesn’t want to put any of that to use any time soon.
“I don’t really focus on that too much. I would say I did those things in college to be able to have a backup plan, but right now the main focus is playing football, making the 53-man roster. I only get this body one time, I’m only 24 one time. I have a job. I’m going to give this job that I have my all until I can’t anymore and then I’ll be able to fall back on my degrees when that time comes whenever it is.”
If he keeps playing like he did last Thursday, there is a chance that could be a while.