When the New York Giants drafted offensive tackle Ereck Flowers out of Miami with the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft, they did so with the belief that they were putting the final piece of their offensive line in place.
"We think this can help solidify the offensive line, so hopefully this will settle the offensive line down and we don't have to keep talking about the offensive line as much," said GM Jerry Reese.
But it didn't work out that way. Everybody is now well aware of Will Beatty tearing his pectoral muscle, a move which caused an instant reshuffling of the line, and much consternation among fans. Beatty's injury forced Flowers from his expected position of right tackle to his eventual position of left tackle, and forced Marshall Newhouse off the bench and into the right tackle slot.
Beatty will be back sometime during the season, possibly sometime in October -- though without knowing the severity of the injury, it is impossible to say when. But until then the camp battle between the backup offensive linemen has taken on a much greater significance.
The Giants released their first unofficial depth chart Monday, and it sheds some light on how the offensive line's depth chart is shaping up:
|LT||Ereck Flowers||Emmett Cleary||Sean Donnelly||Will Beatty|
|LG||Justin Pugh||Adam Gettis||Michael Bamiro|
|C||Weston Richburg||Dallas Reynolds||Brett Jones|
|RG||Geoff Schwartz||John Jerry||Eric Herman|
|RT||Marshall Newhouse||Brandon Mosley||Bobby Hart|
We can reasonably assume that the starters from left tackle to right guard are set. The Giants are likely hoping that Flowers is playing well enough to have to have the conversation of where to play Beatty when he returns. But even if they return to the original plan and play Beatty at left tackle and Flowers at right tackle, Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, and Geoff Schwartz will all keep their starting jobs.
The real camp battle is going on in the interior and at right tackle.
When Flowers, Richburg and Schwartz missed a couple practices because the coaches wanted to rest sore body parts before they turned into injuries, Justin Pugh moved out to left tackle, Adam Gettis being the starting left guard, Dallas Reynolds moved up to starting center, and John Jerry moved up to starting right guard. Each of them, as well as Marshall Newhouse, are facing stiff competition from the players behind them.
Gettis and Reynolds are both in competition with former CFL star Brett Jones. Jones was not only the rookie of the year, but followed that up with being voted the most outstanding lineman in the Canadian Football League his second year.
The 6-foot-2, 315-pound center is cross training at guard, and earning accolades from players, coaches, and reporters. Justin Pugh lauded Jones' intelligence and toughness, while offensive line coach Pat Flaherty has been impressed by Jones' rate of improvement and how he is adapting to the NFL game.
The other battle to keep a close eye on is at right tackle. Marshall Newhouse has largely been entrenched as the starter, however Brandon Mosley began the 2014 preseason as a starter and played reasonably well before a back injury put him on the bench.
Though he has played guard in his three seasons as a Giant, Mosley was a right tackle in college, and has been seeing all of his time there as well. Coach Flaherty had this to say about Mosley back in mini-camp:
"Last year he was having a good training camp and he got hurt, he had a back issue. From there that's where I guess the burial started because he was out," Flaherty said. "It's one of those things where you have to have a little bit of Lady Luck behind you to stay healthy, and he's a prime example of it."
As of now, it seems as though the Giants are using Mosley's time with the second team to readjust his technique to playing tackle.
"He is out there at tackle now. We are trying to keep him in one spot. We moved him and worked a couple reps at the guard position, and it is a little bit different out there at tackle in terms of the pass protection, so he is getting a feel for that. With his technique, he has some work to do."
A strong week of practice and preseason game against a potent Bengals defense could see Mosley take over the starting right tackle job.
The battle for the backup -- and one starting -- offensive line jobs is just starting to heat up. With a limited number of truly "live" practices it can be difficult for linemen to separate themselves. We will certainly know more after the joint practices with Cincinnati and the first preseason game.