The New York Giants‘ offensive line was one of the main culprits that led to a disappointing 7-9 finish in 2013 and, as such, the Giants have spent all offseason trying to remake it. They signed Geoff Schwartz, JD Walton, John Jerry and Charles Brown to help address the depth on the line. Schwartz will start and Walton may join him depending on how he’s recovered from injuries that cost him the last few seasons, but both Brown and Jerry are there to serve as stopgaps in the event of an injury or subpar play.
Even with these moves, the starting line doesn’t look all that much different than last year’s version. Despite breaking his leg in the Week 17 finale against the Washington Redskins, William Beatty is still penciled in as the starting left tackle, assuming he’s ready for the start of the season. Chris Snee, who’s getting up there in age and missed the better part of last season with injuries, is also back as a starter at right guard. Only Justin Pugh, last year’s first-round pick who performed surprisingly well at right tackle, seems like a sure thing for 2014 among the returning starters.
As a result, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the Giants opted for an offensive lineman with the 12th overall pick in tomorrow’s NFL Draft. While the top tackles like Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews and even Taylor Lewan figure to be off the board by the time New York picks, that still may not dissuade them from looking for a lineman. Zack Martin, who many consider to be a top 20 prospect but perhaps a slight reach at 12, is shaping up to be the Giants’ most realistic offensive line option at 12 and picking him certainly wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
While Martin’s ceiling may not be as high as those rated above him, he provides tremendous versatility with the ability to seamlessly shuffle between guard and tackle. Martin is also about as consistent as they come and his floor may be the highest of any tackle besides Robinson and Matthews. Martin won’t wow you with his physical tools, but he’s got great hands, footwork and technique which allow him to consistently stay in front of his man.
Selecting Martin would give the Giants many different options which is something they wouldn’t have with Lewan. Lewan is a prototypical left tackle and has never played any other position, meaning if the Giants opted for him, they’d likely have to shoehorn Lewan into the right side and move the promising Pugh inside or let Lewan man the left side and slide the highly-paid Beatty back to the right side. With Martin, however, the Giants can use him as insurance for Beatty and, in the meantime, he can also spell Snee at right guard. If Beatty returns healthy and proves that last year’s downturn was just a blip on the radar, Martin could even serve as the long-term replacement for Snee on the interior of the line.
Either way, selecting Martin would afford the Giants significant flexibility, as well as a great contingency plan should someone get hurt or under-perform. For this reason, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if the Giants ended up walking away from the draft with Martin in the fold.