New York Giants Still Have Work To Do Along Offensive Line
Last season the offensive line was a major weakness for the New York Giants. Ineffective play combined with a lack of depth equaled a disaster for the Giants, who were unable to get the running game going all season and could not provide Eli Manning any time to make plays. So far this offseason they have added some to the offensive line, but is it enough?
The biggest acquisition made along the offensive line was the signing of Geoff Schwartz, formerly of the Kansas City Chiefs. Schwartz right now is penciled in as the starter at left guard but would have no problem playing elsewhere. He adds versatility to the offensive line with the ability to play either guard or tackle, something important for the Giants with the amount of holes they need to fill across the line.
Another addition the Giants made in free agency was bringing aboard J.D. Walton. The Giants invested highly in Walton even though he has not played since September 2012 due to an ankle injury and struggled mightily as the starter for the Denver Broncos in 2010 and 2011. He will have every chance to win the job in training camp, as the Giants guaranteed him $2.5 million over the length of his two-year contract.
The Giants also recently added John Jerry, formerly of the Miami Dolphins. Jerry has experience at tackle but spent the last two seasons at guard for the Dolphins. He cannot be counted on currently because he could face a suspension from the NFL for his role in the bullying scandal.
Returning players who are likely to man the last three starting spots across the line are Will Beatty, Chris Snee and Justin Pugh.
Beatty struggled mightily last season, as his performance drastically fell off after the Giants awarded him with a monster five-year contract. He is also coming off a broken leg suffered in the final game of the season, putting his status in doubt for the beginning of camp and the season as Beatty is a notoriously slow healer.
Snee is returning from multiple hip surgeries, but right now he is the starter at right guard. It will be his 11th season with the team, and prior to the injuries piling up, he was a rock for the Giants. If he will be able to handle the responsibilities of a starting guard at this point in his career will be something to keep an eye on.
Pugh was solid for the Giants in his rookie season, improving with every passing game. Right tackle is where he is penciled in at right now and where he will be if all goes according to plan. Pugh could be flipped with Beatty if his struggles persist at left tackle or even guard if Snee cannot handle it. Many scouts projected Pugh to be converted to guard after playing at Syracuse, and the versatility he brings is a reason the Giants were compelled to use their first-round pick on him last season.
The Giants, as currently built, should not be comfortable going into the season with what they have along the offensive line. There are plenty of question marks still, such as depth and what will three of the starters provide this season. It would not be surprising to see the Giants focus on offensive linemen in the early rounds of the NFL Draft. Drafting an NFL-ready tackle would strengthen the offensive line immensely, as Pugh could then be moved to right guard, giving the Giants a proven and worthy backup in Snee. Bringing in some veterans still available in free agency would be smart as well. The Giants still have work to be done across the offensive line before training camp gets underway, but they have improved the outlook from last season.