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Giants training camp 2015: Are they better on the offensive line?

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This is one of the critical questions for the Giants entering the season.

Ereck Flowers
Ereck Flowers
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Are the New York Giants better on the offensive line entering their 2015 training camp than they were a year ago? The answer to this question would have been an oh so easy 'yes' had left tackle Will Beatty not suffered a torn pectoral muscle. That unfortunate injury suffered during a spring weight lifting session at the team's Quest Diagnostics Training Center has thrown a unit that finally looked like a finished product into a state of flux.

We have been over this topic a number of times. Let's go through it one more time, however, with 2015 Giants training camp really just hours away.

2014 Depth Chart

Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
Will Beatty Weston Richburg J.D. Walton John Jerry Justin Pugh
Charles Brown Adam Snyder Dallas Reynolds Brandon Mosley Charles Brown
James Brewer James Brewer Weston Richburg James Brewer James Brewer

2015 Depth Chart

Projected before start of training camp. This is my depth chart and is completely unofficial.

Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
Ereck Flowers Justin Pugh Weston Richburg Geoff Schwartz Marshall Newhouse
Emmett Cleary Brandon Mosley Dallas Reynolds John Jerry Brandon Mosley
Michael Bamiro Adam Gettis Brett Jones Eric Herman/Brett Jones Michael Bamiro
Sean Donnelly Michael Bamiro Bobby Hart/Michael Bamiro Bobby Hart

NOTE: Several of the reserve players saw action in multiple spots during the spring. I have shown players in different spots to try and reflect that.

So, are the Giants better?

The short answer, and it's a bit of a cop-out, is maybe.

-- If rookie Ereck Flowers, the ninth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, can do an adequate job at left tackle they could be better.

-- If Justin Pugh can make a successful transition from right tackle to left guard they could be better.

-- If Weston Richburg is the solid center they thought they were getting when they selected him in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft they could be better.

-- If Geoff Schwartz, a road-grading run blocker at right guard, can stay healthy and play up to his capability they could be better.

-- If they can find someone who can be at least adequate at right tackle they could be better.

Fact is, entering training camp the 2014 and 2015 Giants offensive lines look like polar opposites.

The 2014 offensive line was a putrid run-blocking group (22nd in the league in Football Outsiders' offensive line rankings) and a solid pass-blocking group (10th overall per Football Outsiders). It was a group whose best players (Will Beatty and Justin Pugh) manned the tackle spots, and where the bulk of the issues were up the middle at guard and center.

The 2015 offensive line shapes up much differently. With Pugh moving to guard, Richburg to center and Geoff Schwartz returning to a guard spot after an injury-plagued 2014 season, the Giants look strong up the middle of the line. It is at tackle, where the rookie Flowers is on the left and either Marshall Newhouse or Brandon Mosley is penciled in on the right where the line appears to have issues.

With that strong group up the middle and with the reputation the 6-foot-6, 329-pound Flowers has as a mauling run blocker the run blocking figures to be a strength of this unit. The question, because of the iffy tackle situation, will be in pass protection.

What if Flowers isn't ready?

With Beatty gone for the first half of the season or thereabouts, this is a scenario I'm sure the Giants don't want to think about. I am not sure they have a solid Plan B. Guys like Emmett Cleary, Michael Bamiro and Sean Donnelly took left tackle reps in the spring and I'm not sure the Giants want to see any of those guys get regular-season action. Best guess is the Giants would put Pugh there for a couple of games and hope for the best until Beatty returns.

When does the cavalry arrive?

Beatty is part of that cavalry, and the timetable for his return appears to be the second half of the season. The other part of that question is looking at when, or if, the Giants will go outside the organization to try and upgrade the line.

Could they do that soon with the likes of Gosder Cherilus, Jake Long, Evan Mathis, Rob Sims or another available starting-caliber lineman? Could they wait until the end of the preseason, see who gets dropped in final roster cuts, and add someone then? Will they simply add a veteran for depth, like they did last season when they signed Adam Snyder? Will they do nothing at all and roll with what they have?

Final thoughts

The original question, of course, was "Are the Giants better on the offensive line than they were a year ago?" No doubt they should have been. Right now, though, they are likely hoping to simply be good enough to not handicap what could be a breathtaking, explosive offense.