The NY Giants appear to still have a major hole at center, but with two intriguing prospects ready to slide over, the issue is probably overrated.
Heading into the free agency period and then the NFL Draft, NY Giants fans were hoping to land their center of the future this offseason. However, once news broke of Nick Gates practicing snapping the ball and the drafting of an intriguing guard prospect out of Oregon – that’s also been working out at center – the center for 2020 and beyond is likely already on the team.
One potential problem with giving either Nick Gates or rookie Shane Lemiuex the shot at the pivot position is that there may not be many – if any – physical workout or training camp like practices this offseason.
All of the NY Giants’ teamwork has been of the virtual variety since Joe Judge took over as head coach, and although they’ve reportedly gone very well, it’s going to be tough to ask a young, inexperienced player that’s never taken real snaps at center to take over and flourish in this type of scenario.
However, if there was one player I’d be willing to bet has a decent shot of doing it, it’d be 2019 breakout young stud, Nick Gates. Gates has already shown that he can adapt at the NFL level to something that’s new to him when he slid over to the guard position in his first healthy NFL campaign.
The big issue will obviously come down to snapping the football as the basic blocking and body type differences between the center and the guard positions aren’t all that difficult. It might even be even easier for Gates with new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett coming to town, as Garrett runs from under center a ton and it’s possible Gates feels more comfortable with that while he gets the whole snapping process down.
One thing that gives the incoming rookie, Shane Lemieux, a leg up is that he’s brand new – just like the entire coaching staff. The new staff won’t have any preconceived notions about Gates, and Gates won’t get the extra advantage of knowing the team’s playbook and system.
It’s going to be a hell of a battle between these two young players, particularly in these wild circumstances we’re in.
Is there a free agent out there that fits?
If you were to guess that the center market would be pretty barren at this time of year, you’d be correct. With about the top ten prior available free agents on the market at 2020 snatched up, the NY Giants would have to dive pretty deep to find anyone that fits the billing at this point.
The biggest worry should be that GM Dave Gettleman decides to bring back Jon Halapio due to familiarity — Halapio was the team’s starting center for the better part of the last two years.
This would be a bad option in my mind, as we’ve already seen what Jon Halapio looks at center for the NY Giants, and it ain’t pretty.
Halapio tore his Achilles last season but indicated earlier in the offseason that he expected to be ready for training camp, so it’s not a longshot to think he could be ready by Week 1.
One name that makes a bit of sense to me is Justin Britt. Britt has been the Seahawks’ center for the last few seasons after making the slide over from guard himself. He earned a Pro Bowl alternate nod in the process and probably won’t cost must money due to the fact that he’s been banged up the last few years.
Still just 29, there’s an argument that he’s still got tread left on the tires – even with the injuries.