The New York Giants offensive line was the subject of more than one debate last season. Their one big free agent acquisition, center David Baas, who was replacing Shaun O’Hara, made only 11 starts. Will Beatty, who inherited the starting left tackle position, only made 10 starts after going down for the season after an eye injury. The Giants offensive line never seemed to mesh and struggled to provide adequate blocking in the running game which ranked last in the NFL.
This season, the Giants were expected to bring in some depth, either through the draft, or free agency. That didn’t really happen. Right tackle Kareem McKenzie was not brought back. The Giants did sign Sean Locklear but he is an average offensive lineman and is not a long term answer. The Giants did add Matt McCants, a large, but raw, tackle from Alabama-Birmingham in the sixth round but he is mostly a depth addition that the Giants hope can develop into a starter down the road.
The Giants are also high on tackle James Brewer, a fourth round pick from Indiana in the 2011 NFL Draft. They believe Brewer has the talent to be a starting right tackle in the NFL and he will be given every opportunity to earn a starting spot at right tackle in training camp.
Heading into training camp, only two positions on the Giants offensive line are locked down and that is center and right guard, where Chris Snee continues to be a Pro Bowl quality guard. If Beatty is healthy and ready to go he should be able to lock down the left tackle spot. Everyone else will be fighting for a job. The Giants love guard Mitch Petrus and his strength on the interior of the offensive line. He is a mauler who is adept at clearing holes for the running game. Some of the Giants’ best games rushing-wise came with Petrus getting the start. Kevin Boothe is another mauler who was fairly effective and can play anywhere on the interior line. David Diehl is a quality lineman, not because he is among the best in the NFL anymore, but because he is versatile and will do a decent enough job wherever he ends up. He looked overwhelmed last season when used as the left tackle but he can certainly be an adequate right tackle but might be best served as a guard these days.
Do the Giants need help on the offensive line? First and foremost they need to get healthy and stay healthy. The Giants were forced to shuffle their line around a lot last season because of injury. They also lost Shaun O’Hara who was a Pro Bowl center and leader on the offensive line. Baas has the talent to replace O’Hara but he had trouble staying healthy and the lockout-shortened offseason I’m sure didn’t help his cause.
There are some quality linemen on the Giants. It is mostly a matter of staying healthy. If they can do that I believe the Giants offensive line will show a drastic improvement over last season’s performance.