It’s not uncommon for first-round draft picks to turn their careers around after disappointing rookie seasons. Andrew Thomas, though, has taken that to an extreme. Thomas was quite possibly the worst left tackle in football in 2020. Two years later, he’s a second-team All-Pro and arguably the best player on the New York Giants.
Let’s take a look back at Thomas’ work so far and what he’ll bring to the Giants’ offensive line this year.
By the numbers
Position: Offensive tackle
Contract: Four-year, $32.346 million rookie deal | 2023 cap hit: $10,292 million
Career to date
The Giants selected Thomas No. 4 overall in the 2020 draft as the first of four offensive linemen selected in the first 13 picks.
His rookie season was disastrous, especially in the first half of the season. Thomas appeared lost with poor technique and footwork, and having to change offensive line coaches halfway through the year did not help matters. He allowed 10 sacks and 57 quarterback pressures in 615 pass-block snaps, the latter of which ranked second-to-last among all tackles.
Though it was too early to write Thomas off, the success of other rookie linemen in the league that year made things appear dire. Thomas recently called his own play as a rookie “embarrassing.”
Thomas turned things around immediately in 2021. He gave up two sacks and 18 pressures in 13 games, even while dealing with the lingering effects of an ankle injury.
Thomas had ankle surgery in the offseason and and returned as one of the best players in all of football, finally vindicating his lofty draft status. He allowed only 21 pressures and three sacks in 16 starts while committing two penalties.
1 of only 3 tackles with an 80+ pass-blocking and run-blocking grade this season— PFF (@PFF) January 12, 2023
PFF's Breakout Player of the Year: Andrew Thomas pic.twitter.com/Wc2rgIhAEV
Like Dexter Lawrence on the other side of the ball, Thomas just needs to prove that he can keep playing at an All-Pro level. There’s no reason to think that will be an issue. Thomas was one of the most consistent players in football last year. A Week 12 matchup with Micah Parsons and the Dallas Cowboys was the only time Thomas appeared outmatched. Even if he were to regress slightly, it appears that Thomas is a true homegrown franchise cornerstone.
This is the first offseason Thomas has spent training instead of recovering from surgery. Thomas will also get to spend another year with Bobby Johnson, the first time he’s had the same offensive line coach in back-to-back offseasons.
Thomas explained the value of having Johnson back on the Giants Huddle podcast.
“It is great to be in the same system back-to-back years, so I’m looking forward to us growing as an offense...” Thomas said. “It’s great. I mean, we’re not learning each other. We already understand what makes each other tick, understand the offense. You can start asking more questions, like really understanding the full process and not just regurgitating information. I’m looking forward to it.”
The pieces around Thomas certainly need some work. Pro Football Focus ranked the Giants as the 30th-best offensive line in the last year, even with a second-team All-Pro at left tackle. Thomas’ veteran leadership should be valuable as John Michael Schmitz begins his NFL career and Evan Neal looks to improve on a disappointing rookie season.
If he continues to perform at an elite level, Thomas will likely become one of the highest-paid offensive linemen in the NFL following the season. Laremy Tunsil is currently the richest lineman with a $25 million annual salary, and it’s possible Thomas could exceed that.