Considered a project when he was drafted out of the University of Connecticut, the NY Giants gave their rookie tackle, Matt Peart, valuable in-game experience last season. After some up and down performances, did he do enough to earn the starting job next season?
Drafted in the third round, it’s safe to say that NY Giants’ rookie tackle, Matt Peart, didn’t expect to start over fourth overall pick, Andrew Thomas, last season. That all came to fruition Week 6 – Thomas was benched for the first drive due to a violation of team rules, but Peart stepped in and held his own against the likes of Washington’s Chase Young.
Talk about trial by fire.
Peart helped contribute to points on the opening drive of the game for the Giants – a 33 yard field goal by Graham Gano. Those points ended up being crucial, as his team went on to beat Washington 20-19 – coach Joe Judge’s first career victory.
After the game, Judge commended Peart’s ability to step into an unexpected situation and thrive.
"“Matt – you know, we always preach ‘be ready to play’ – his number was called, he was ready to go early and right away,” said Judge."
Peart’s number was called a lot more after that day – the Giants decided to try an unconventional strategy to get him valuable playing time, rotating offensive lineman. He flashed some of the skill that helped him in his surprise start, and there were also moments where we were reminded he was drafted as a third round project with potential.
The former Connecticut Husky ended his rookie season with one start, 150 offensive snaps played and only two sacks allowed – earning a grade of 69.7 from Pro Football Focus. The Giants were encouraged by his play his rookie year, and believe he’s on the right track.
The night he was drafted, general manager Dave Gettleman raved about Peart’s ceiling, saying “I think he has a sizable ceiling. He’s young, he’s really got a lot of talent. We really like the upside on him.”
Entering his sophomore season, is Peart ready to take over the reigns as the Giants’ starting right tackle?
Like any young tackle, Peart has his strengths and weaknesses. Coaches, experts and fans alike saw how maddening it can be trying to figure those out with a first round pick in Thomas last season – it’s even more difficult with a third round pick in Peart.
His strengths include that Peart is a giant of a man – a towering 6 foot 7, 320 pound man, with arms 36 5/8th’s long. To go along with those impressive measurables, he’s athletic for a tackle, along with having an impressive work ethic.
Peart’s weaknesses coming out of college included his technique and the way he distributed his weight, but the NY Giants’ believed they could correct that with their coaching. With the offensive line coach position finally filled for the foreseeable future, the hope is that new O-Line coach, Rob Sale, can help mold Peart into what the team’s brass envisioned.
Some experts wondered if Peart was a better fit as a guard than a tackle, which could also be an option for the Giants if they decide to draft a tackle in the first round of the NFL Draft.
While it may seem easy for the Giants to just slot into the starting right tackle position, there’s a multitude of factors working against him as well.
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Could the NY Giants opt for a veteran at right tackle again this season? If Nate Solder doesn’t retire, the team will have to decide if they’re better off cutting him and his contract.
Another free agent plug-and-play could be the answer – their starting right tackle from last season, Cam Fleming, or former Jaguar Cam Robinson could do the job until Peart is ready. Fleming didn’t set the world on fire when he played last season, but at least he’s familiar with Jason Garrett’s offense.
Could the Giants really use another first round pick on an offensive lineman? Oregon’s stud, Penei Sewell, is certain to be drafted by then – but what about players like Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater, Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw, or USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker?
After watching Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, scramble for his life all Super Bowl, perhaps Gettleman and Judge decide to go all-in on the offensive line again. If Peart didn’t show them enough to be confident in his ability next season, it could be an option that surprises everyone.
Peart grew up a fan of the Giants – watching Giants’ offensive tackles David Diehl and Kareem McKenzie play pivotal roles in the team’s success. If Peart can prove himself, it would be a dream come true for himself and Thomas to anchor the line for years to come.
“Just know that I am ready to work and ready to prove that I belong to be a Giant and ready to earn everything,” said Peart, the night he was drafted.
He earned valuable playing time and experience last season – next season, he’ll try to earn the starting right tackle job.