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Giants will turn to the 2022 NFL Draft to improve the offensive line

Joe Schoen was reluctant — and frankly didn’t have the expertise — to provide a detailed assessment of the state of the offensive line shortly after taking over as general manager of the Giants. However, Schoen had the full number of fingers, and all he needed was one hand to accurately count the healthy bodies on contract and report that there were only five offensive linemen on the list who met those specs.

So there was work to be done to add quality and quantity to a positional group that has puzzled the Giants for a decade.

With the first wave of NFL free agency complete, the offensive line count now stands at 10. Schoen signed four players from outside the organization: guard Mark Glowinski, center Jon Feliciano, tackle Matt Gono and guard Jamil Douglas. Schoen also signed Korey Cunningham, a 26-year-old tackle who played sparingly in 12 games (no starts) in 2021.

The upgrades are tangible but limited, and there’s more than tinkering to do — considering the Giants began this process with just one returning player, left tackle Andrew Thomas, as the undoubted starter on the offensive line.

Giants
charles cross
Getty Images

There is usually a money trail that reveals what a team has planned for a new player. This is consistent with the added offensive linemen. Glowinski, 29, received by far the largest contract (three years, $18.3 million) of any other player the Giants signed under contract. He’s moving in as right guard, and the new front office believes that will be an upgrade from Will Hernandez, who was a starter at left guard and then right guard for the past four years. Glowinski was ranked 21st guard by Pro Football Focus in 2021. Hernandez was No. 60.

As of now, Feliciano is the starting center, despite the majority of his NFL experience being on guard in his seven-year career. It’s a one-year, $3.25 million deal for Feliciano, 30. Nick Gates, the starting center for all 16 games in 2020, suffered a serious fracture of his leg in the second week of last season and is unlikely to be ready for this season he endured a lengthy rehabilitation and multiple surgeries.

Feliciano appears to be an upgrade from last season’s starting center Billy Price, acquired in a desperate trade with the Bengals. Thomas, Glowinski and Feliciano give the Giants three starters they think can compete.

There’s also Shane Lemieux, who started nine games as a rookie in 2020 but only got into one game last season before a knee problem put him on injured reserve. Lemieux was a strong run blocker but struggled as a pass protector. He is expected to be healthy and if he is healthy he will be fighting for the left guard starting spot.

The Giants own the Nos. 5 and 7 overall picks in next month’s draft, and an investigation might be in order if any of those picks lack an offensive tackle. Adding a young, talented player to work alongside Thomas on the left in the tackle on the right is a priority and this draft can make that happen.

Giants
Trevor Penning
AP

The top two tackles on most boards, Alabama’s Evan Neal and North Carolina State’s Ickey Ekwonu, won’t both be in No. 5 and there’s a good chance both could be gone. Charles Cross (Mississippi State) is next in line for many teams, and he said Tuesday at his Pro Day that the Giants and Jets have shown the most interest in him so far. Maybe Trevor Penning (Northern Iowa) is an option in 7th place or if the Giants trade a few spots down.

The Giants have three picks in the top 36, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if two of them cater to offensive line needs. Guard Zion Johnson (Boston College) is likely a Day 1 starter and he has the versatility to move up the middle. If sold to the Giants that Tyler Linderbaum (Iowa) can be their center for the next eight years, he would be worth the investment. Since Feliciano had only signed for a year and submitted his resume to the Watch, there would be flexibility inside the line.

Selecting a player at the head of the draft does not ensure the offensive line is repaired – see Weston Richburg (second round, 2014), Ereck Flowers (first round, 2015) and Hernandez (second round, 2018) for details. The Giants need to make their picks and get them right. What Schoen has done so far to fix the line is encouraging but incomplete. There’s more to do.

https://nypost.com/2022/03/22/giants-will-turn-to-2022-nfl-draft-to-upgrade-offensive-line/ Giants will turn to the 2022 NFL Draft to improve the offensive line

JOE HERNANDEZ

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