The New York Giants held their first minicamp on Tuesday and reporters got a first look at who is penciled in on the first team. And while the offseason cries for an upgrade on right tackle Marshall Newhouse have been loud and dominated the conversation, the man lining up next to him is as big an issue.
Giants fans have seen John Jerry on the offensive line over the years filling in for injured starters. He got some playing time last year when Geoff Schwartz, now on the Detroit Lions, went down for the last five games with a broken ankle. Jerry has been a serviceable backup since the Giants picked him up from Miami two seasons ago.
At minicamp yesterday, Jerry was penciled in as a starter and just days before the draft, the Giants should be looking at the available guards in the third and fourth round to compete for that job.
Arizona State Christian Westerman is a strong, athletic guard who dominated the bench press at the combine, but has light feet to shuffle laterally in pass protection. Teams can’t put too much value on weight room numbers unless it translates to on-the-field play. For Westerman, it does. CBS’s Rob Rang puts it this way: “He possesses the upper-body strength to turn defenders from run lanes with quick hands to react to counter moves by interior rushers.”
NFL.com compares Westerman to Atlanta Falcons center Alex Mack, who went to three Pro Bowls with the Cleveland Browns. They have Westerman has a projected second-round pick, but WalterFootball.com projects he could drop as far as the fifth round. The Giants could grab an extremely competitive guard late in the draft who could end up as a starter before the season starts.
It’s worth noting that Bobby Hart could compete with Jerry for the starting RG job, but at minicamp, he was lined up as the second-team right tackle. Hart had a decent showing in spot duty last year as a rookie. Also, Jerry Reese may not be done in free agency. If the Giants can afford it, they make take a run at former Denver Broncos guard Louis Vasquez who is still looking for work.
If the Giants could grab Westerman in the fourth round, they are getting a value pick with big upside to compete for the starting job. Tackle is a huge concern for the Giants in 2016, but guard can’t be overlooked.