clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Making the case 2023: Devery Hamilton vs. Matt Peart vs. Tyre Phillips at swing tackle

Who will back up Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal?

Syndication: The Record Danielle Parhizkaran/ / USA TODAY NETWORK

We’re still in the dog days of summer, but the New York Giants’ training camp is fast approaching. This year’s training camp promises to be one of the most competitive in recent memory. The flip side of that is that thanks to the work done by Joe Schoen, Brandon Brown, Brian Daboll, and the rest of the Giants’ brain trust, the roster is much-improved over previous years.

There might be one open roster spot at each position group (save positions like backup quarterback or kicker), for which players on the roster bubble are competing.

Today we’re going to look at the reserve tackle position, and the battle for swing tackle.

While much of the attention (rightly) goes to the starting offensive line, there’s an argument that an offensive line is no better than its primary depth players. Anything can happen during the course of a game that can force a back-up onto the field from an injury, to a cramp, to a shoe coming untied.

Devery Hamilton, Matt Peart, and Tyre Phillips are vying to be the first man off the bench should Andrew Thomas or Evan Neal need to come off the field. The decision will be made on the field during training camp and the preseason, but who’s coming into camp with the strongest case?

Devery Hamilton

Hamilton is entering his third year in the NFL after signing with the Las Angeles Raiders as an undrafted free agent out of Duke. Hamilton spent the first three years of his college career at Stanford before transferring to Duke, where he started every game at right tackle for the 2020 season. He started games for Stanford left tackle, as well as left and right guard, and earned Pac-12 All-Academic honors as a sophomore and junior.

The Giants signed Hamilton to their practice squad in 2021 and to a Reserve/Futures deal in 2022. He made the Giants’ initial 53-man roster in 2022, but bounced between the active roster and practice squad.

Why should he make the roster?

Hamilton’s biggest asset might be his versatility. If being able to excel on special teams is a deciding factor for skill position players who are on the roster bubble, then being able to back up multiple positions on game day carries the same kind of weight for an offensive lineman.

He started games in college at four of the five offensive line positions, and if he can do so at the NFL level, it can give the coaches more freedom in naming their game-day roster than they otherwise might have. The Giants already have Joshua Ezeudu as a potential “super-sub”, but having multiple lineman who can step on the field and competently play four of the five OL positions is a luxury few teams enjoy.

Hamilton is also a very intelligent player. As mentioned above, he twice received Pac-12 All-Academic and graduated from Stanford in 2020 with a double-major in Communication and Philosophy, and got his masters in Management Studies from Duke in 2021.

Hamilton played 70 snaps at left tackle against the New England Patriots in Week 1 of the 2022 pre-season, and was the Giants’ highest graded player by PFF, with a 90.1 overall grade.

He seems to understand the importance of cohesiveness and teamwork along the offensive line.

“At the end of the day we play offensive line, it’s five guys working as one,” he told our own Ed Valentine. “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.”

That’s an important mindset for any offensive lineman. It’s doubly important for a player who could be called to play any position on short (or no) notice. Having the intelligence to (potentially) understand the duties of every position within a blocking scheme can only help his case.

What could hold him back?

Playing well in preseason is all well and good, but it’s still preseason. Teams are conserving their best players to keep them fresh for the regular season. Likewise, they’re also holding back many of the schemes and wrinkles to maintain every possible competitive advantage for when the games actually count.

Hamilton only has 39 offensive snaps in regular season games, which is an incredibly small sample size. He’s still a young player and really only has one training camp under his belt after missing all of his rookie camp following surgery for appendicitis. He could still need development before he’s the Giants’ best option to back up Thomas and Neal, and they might not be able to spare a spot on the 53-man roster for a player they’d rather not see on the field.

It’s also possible that the Giants’ other options for a swing tackle are just better than Hamilton and have higher ceilings. Hamilton has good length and size, as well as an explosive lower body, but he doesn’t have great lateral agility for a guard, let alone a tackle.

Matt Peart

The Giants drafted Peart out of UConn in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft as they sought to rebuild their offensive line. At 6-foot 6⅝ inches, 318 pounds, with 36⅝ inch arms, and running a 5.06 second 40-yard dash with a 30-inch vertical and 9½-inch broad jump, Peart looks like he was ordered out of a catalogue. There was plenty of hype surrounding Peart following Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy comparing him to former All-Pro D’Brickashaw Ferguson.

However, injury has slowed Peart and he has never managed to make good on the hype or reach his apparent ceiling. This could be his last chance to make an NFL roster as he enters the final year of his rookie contract.

Why should he make the roster?

Peart just looks like a modern NFL offensive tackle. He’s an objectively massive human being, but carries his weight very well with great length and athletic upside. That upside and prototypical physique are why he was drafted with the 99th overall pick.

Peart is still a relatively young man at 26 years old, and he’s had his development has come in fits and starts. His rookie season saw him play in an unconventional tackle rotation, only coming on the field for zone blocking plays. He was unable to build on whatever foundation was laid with his inconsistent field time in 2020 thanks to a back injury slowing him throughout the 2021 off-season. He then suffered an ACL tear late in 2021 which kept him on the PUP list until the second half of 2022.

Peart may be going into his fourth season as a professional, but this is likely the first time he’s had any kind of stability. That stability and consistency in scheme, coaching, and health could allow him the chance to truly develop and make good on his potential. If so, he could separate himself from the other contenders and finally look like a player expected to play a significant role in the offense.

What could hold him back?

Peart has a chance to get his NFL career back on track, but there are potential roadblocks in the way.

First and foremost, his play on the field has been wildly inconsistent. Peart had some good games and moments in his rookie season, and he played fairly well once he returned to the field against the Detroit Lions in 2022. However, he has also had quite a few very low points as well. Peart certainly looks the part and has an explosive lower body to go with his speed. However, he struggles with lateral agility and has been badly exposed by speed off of the edge.

Peart’s injury history has disrupted his development, and the specter of future injuries has to be considered as well. If his camp or preseason are disrupted by any injuries, that could spell the end of his career as a Giant.

Finally, Peart is a tackle while both Hamilton and Phillips have experience at guard. That should be an asset for a player trying to make the roster as a swing tackle, but if Peart is a “Tackle Only”, while the other two can provide depth at guard as well as tackle, Peart will have to be the clear and obvious third best tackle on the team. If it’s at all close between Peart and Hamilton or Phillips, odds are, Peart will be the loser. It’s only responsible to use one roster spot for a player who can back up four positions as opposed to two.

Tyre Phillips

Phillips is, at least as of this writing, the likely frontrunner to win the swing tackle job.

Phillips, like Peart, was drafted in the third round of the 2020 Draft, with the Ravens using the 106th overall pick to select him out of Mississppi State. He won a starting guard job as a rookie, overcoming an ankle injury to beat D.J. Fluker out in training camp.

The Ravens attempted to find a trade partner for Phillips after the 2022 preseason but were ultimately unable to do so and waived him in final cutdowns. Phillips was signed by the Giants the next day.

Why should he make the roster?

First and foremost, Phillips is by far the most experienced of these young men. It’s notable that Phillips won a starting job as a rookie, and did so for a very good offensive line. While he struggled with injuries as a rookie, that year the Ravens’ offensive line was eighth (62 percent) in pass block win rate and fourth (73 percent). The fact that Phillips was able to win a starting job on one of the best offensive lines in the NFL as a rookie speaks to his ability and upside. He might not have the raw athletic upside as Matt Peart, but he has done a much better job of proving his ability on the field.

Phillips also has a similar level of versatility as Hamilton. He has played meaningful snaps at both guard positions as well as tackle, suggesting that he could fill a “super sub” role and provide depth for the interior offensive line as well as at tackle. As noted above with Hamilton, being able to back up four positions (as opposed to two) is an definite advantage. The flexibility that affords coaches makes a player like Phillips very valuable when putting the roster together, or making decisions on the game-day roster.

What could hold him back?

Injury concerns might be the biggest thing holding Phillips back. He suffered multiple ankle injuries as a rookie, a knee injury that saw him carted off the field in Week 1 of the 2021 season, and later finished 2021 on the injured reserve.

Thanks to those injuries, as well as constant position changes, he’s struggled to find consistency and stability in his development. As with Peart, there’s an injury concern with Phillips, which opens up the possibility that one of the other young reserve linemen could leapfrog him on the depth chart if he gets an injury at some point in camp or the preseason.

Also, while Phillips is a massive man at 6-foot-5, 330 pounds and plays with the expected power, he doesn’t have great athleticism and lateral agility in particular. Each of these reserve tackles can struggle with speed off the edge, but Phillips’ size and injury history could compound to make this a particular concern.