NY Giants still have major work to do along offensive line

New York Giants offensive tackle Andrew Thomas (Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Giants offensive tackle Andrew Thomas (Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports) /

The NY Giants’ offense remains in desperate need of playmakers, after scoring the second-fewest points in the offensive-driven NFL in 2020, but the bigger need might still be fortifying the offensive line in front of quarterback Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley.

While No. 4 overall pick Andrew Thomas flashed tantalizing upside, he also was wildly inconsistent at others. Thomas finished the season with a 62.4 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, after surrendering 10 sacks and 57 total pressures in 615 pass-blocking snaps.

Meanwhile, the Giants were so confident in what they saw from center Nick Gates that journeyman Jonotthan Harrison was signed Sunday to provide interior depth and potentially push for a starting job.

Fifth-round rookie Shane Lemieux was a colossal disappointment, left guard Will Hernandez dramatically regressed, and while Matt Peart showed potential, he remains a bit of an unknown.

As Dave Gettleman’s fourth offseason as general manager of the Giants begins, much work remains along the offensive line.

According to Pro Football Focus, offensive line remains the Giants’ most pressing offseason need, ahead of pass-rush help, an outside cornerback, or even a playmaking wide receiver:

"Kevin Zeitler was a solid player at one guard spot, but the other one for the Giants was a mess. Will Hernandez and Shane Lemieux combined to create a problem spot all season long regardless of who was starting. The pair surrendered 50 total pressures and had PFF run-blocking grades below 60.0 each. They are both young players, but at this point the Giants may not have the luxury of allowing them to develop if the team values the development of quarterback Daniel Jones, who had a PFF grade of 91.5 when kept clean this season but 46.9 when pressured."

While the NY Giants will likely turn to the NFL Draft to mine a bookend for Thomas, there’s a chance that Zeitler could become a salary cap casualty, to release some of the squeeze from the organization as it enters 2021 approximately $2.073 million over the cap.

To be clear, adding to Jones’ arsenal should be the top priority, especially given the lack of production from receivers Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, and Golden Tate in 2020. But, as PFF points out, the offensive line remains a going concern.

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Matt Lombardo is the site expert for GMenHQ, and writes Between The Hash Marks each Wednesday for FanSided. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattLombardoNFL.