The New York Giants‘ offensive line redefined awful last season. Now the Giants are heading into the 2014 season with a lot of questions at the position. The only player assured of spot on opening day is Justin Pugh, and he might be better off switching positions. With so much in flux and limited resources available in free agency, the Giants must use their first-round pick on an offensive lineman.
Last season, the Giants’ projected offensive line was William Beatty, Kevin Boothe, David Baas, Chris Snee and Pugh. Beatty had a rough season after signing a five-year, $38.75 million contract. While his cap hit will keep him from going anywhere, he was badly injured in the last game of the season and might not be ready for the start of the season.
Boothe was fine, but is a free agent this offseason. The Giants might be better off going in a different direction just to shake things up. Baas has been a liability since he signed with the Giants and looks like a likely cut. While Snee is another likely cut, he has expressed interest in returning to the Giants and is Coughlin’s son-in-law. But even on a minimum salary deal, the Giants can’t afford to rely on him as a starter.
It’s important that the Giants walk away with a tackle, and there aren’t many immediate good ones that last past the first round. By taking a tackle, the Giants will have the personnel to slide Pugh inside to guard. The tackle will also act as insurance if Beatty can’t bounce back from his poor performance last season. In this case, all the Giants would have to do is slide the rookie tackle from right tackle to left and move Pugh back out to tackle.
This isn’t anything new. Last season, we saw several prominent tackles taken early in the draft who started the season at right tackle and were slid over to the left side as need arose.
Why can’t the Giants take a tackle in free agency? Well for starters, interior linemen will be cheaper than tackles in free agency. For a team with limited cap space, it’d be better to spread the money around to several positions. Secondly, no true left tackle is going to want to sign as a right tackle, nor is it financially prudent to spend left tackle money on a right tackle. Basically, the free agent route would hurt the flexibility that the Giants need at the position.
At the 12th spot, there should be a quality tackle left for the Giants, whether it’s Taylor Lewan, Cyrus Kouandjio, Greg Robinson or Jake Matthews. Any one of those players would be the perfect pick for this team.