In 2013, the offensive line was one of the biggest problems for the New York Giants’ struggles last season. Coming into the offseason, it was one of the areas they concentrated on improving. They brought in plenty of players such as Geoff Schwartz, J.D. Walton, John Jerry and Charles Brown. They also selected Weston Richburg with their second round pick, a center out of Colorado State. The battle between Walton and Richburg for starters reps will be something worth keeping an eye on.
Walton has not played in the NFL in two seasons because of injury, but has experience at a starter in the league. He was the starting center for the Denver Broncos before injuries derailed him. He was expected to be the starter prior to the draft, and does not seem ready to hand the job over to Richburg.
“Same with any team I’m on. I’m going to bust my butt. Based on what I’ve done in the past, I expect to be the starter.”
Walton said he was not bothered that the Giants used a high draft pick on a player who plays the same position, saying, “Nothing wrong with competition. He’s a good kid. That elevates everyone,” referring to Richburg. Maybe he should be a little worried though.
Richburg looks to have been drafted because of his skill set. In the presumed zone-blocking scheme the Giants will be using under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, Richburg fits in very well. Richburg has also been very professional in his interviews, saying all of the right things when spoken to, especially when asked about the notion of him being ‘pro-ready.’
“I don’t know if anybody’s pro-ready, because the players are so much better and faster and stronger at this level. I think there are people that are more well-prepared than others. I’m going to work hard just like I did in college. I’m going to have to earn what I want.”
That sounds like a player who wants to succeed, and knows that it will take more than a lofty draft position to do so. With David Baas being designated as a post-June 1st release, Walton and Richburg will be in an open competition to become the starter.
Going into the offseason program, Walton has the edge being in camp a month earlier learning the new system, and receiving a two year, $6 million contract with $2.5 million guaranteed. That isn’t the type of money you throw at a player who has been out of the league for two seasons to be a backup.
Nonetheless, this will be an old fashioned competition where both players have a chance to be the starter. This is a good problem for the Giants to have — two players capable of starting at the position. It gives them a good option on the bench in case of injury or ineffectiveness, and is light years better than the situation the Giants were in last season.