New York Giants Still Need to Improve OL
Last season, the New York Giants‘ biggest weakness was offensive line. Coming into the offseason, it seemed clear that was going to be a priority for the team. Sure enough, one of their first major signings was guard Geoff Schwartz, arguably the best guard on the market. Problem is, after that, the Giants have done very little to improve the unit and Jerry Reese better be looking to make a few more moves before the season starts.
In addition to adding Schwartz, the team has brought in J.D. Walton and John Jerry. Both were former third-round picks and started for their previous club — Walton drafted by the Denver Broncos, and Jerry by the Miami Dolphins. But Walton missed all of last season and most of 2012 after dislocating his ankle. The two full seasons he was a starter he graded poorly as both a pass and run blocker. Pro Football Focus (PFF) had him ranked as the fourth-worst center in 2010, and the worst center in 2011. He graded positively in the four games he played in 2012, but that was after the Broncos brought in Peyton Manning, whose pre-snap pass protection calls and quick release make the lives of offensive linemen significantly easier.
Jerry has been a starter for a Dolphins offensive line that is almost as big of a dumpster fire as the Giants. Even worse, he was part of the infamous bullying scandal and could face discipline for his involvement. Overall, PFF hit him with a -2.9 grade for the season.
As of now it appears the Giants’ offensive line will feature Will Beatty (LT), Schwartz (LG), Walton (C), Chris Snee (RG), Justin Pugh (RT), and Jerry as the flex backup. Beatty had an awful 2013, and he broke his leg in the last game of the season. We already discussed the questions surrounding Walton. Snee has been an injury concern in recent seasons, and some even thought he was going to retire this offseason. With Kevin Boothe signing with the Oakland Raiders, Jerry is the only quality depth the team has. That hardly makes you feel a lot better about a unit Football Outsiders ranked 30th in the run game, and 19th as pass protectors.
No matter how tempting a tight end or receiver might be in the draft, the Giants should focus on offensive line with one of their early picks, in addition to signing one more potential starter in free agency. The team saw how a disastrous offensive line hurt their season last year. The last thing they can afford is to add more question marks to the unit, and cross their fingers that everything is going to work out.