It could be a second straight NFL Draft where the New York Giants end up prioritizing the offensive line in the first round. On Thursday, the Giants released veteran guard Kevin Zeitler, who had 31 starts in his two seasons with the organization. And earlier this week, general manager Dave Gettleman didn’t exactly endorse left tackle Nate Solder’s return. Gettleman didn’t say that the Solder was gone.
He just didn’t definitely say he’s coming back.
And now with this uncertainty along the offensive line and a tight salary cap situation, the Giants might be forced to again address their offensive line issues early in April’s NFL Draft. Last year, Gettleman took Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas fourth overall. The year before that, Will Hernandez out of UTEP was selected with the second pick of the second round.
Could Giants really go OL again?
The Giants enter the draft sitting with the 11th overall pick, and given the unique circumstances of the college season and with no NFL Combine this year, an argument could be made for Gettleman to move up and target a blue-chip offensive lineman.
“Well, I think that you can make the argument that you’re going to have the most information on the top 100-150 guys and as you work backward because of a lack of touch and whatever, you’re not going to have as much information or have as much confidence in your ability to work your way through that group. You can make the argument to trade back because of this thing,” Gettleman said in a press conference this week.
“There are guys in this draft that when they put pads on in August it’ll be the first time in 20 months they’ll have put pads on, so you’ve got to think about that piece and some of those guys are very, very highly rated, so you’ve got to think about that.
“[The] point about moving picks and trading back and getting 2022 picks is very valid because hopefully we’ll be back to somewhat normal and we’ll be able to draft in 2022 with that kind of thorough information that we had in 2020, but not in 2021. So you can make that argument for that, you can make that argument to trade back, accumulate picks for next year. You can make the argument that you sit tight. You can make the argument that knowing that your best information is going to be on the top guys, maybe you trade up. So, who knows?”
Looking at Giants team needs
The current situation complicates things for the Giants, who need to do everything possible to ensure that quarterback Daniel Jones is able to develop and mature. And while addressing massive needs at wide receiver would excite the fanbase, the Giants could well use some help in protecting Jones and also star running back Saquon Barkley.
One option for the Giants could be to move up into the top five picks in the draft and select Oregon’s Penei Sewell, the most-polished left tackle in the draft. Sewell would be transformational and provide bookends with the aforementioned Thomas in protecting the edges.
Should they sit with the 11th overall pick, the Giants could have Rashawn Slater in play. A tackle at Northwestern, Slater projects at guard on Sundays. He opted out of this past season. Slater moves well and was dominant two years ago at left tackle against Ohio State’s Chase Young, who was taken second overall in last spring’s NFL Draft.