There were admirable steps forward taken by the NY Giants in 2020.
In hanging tight against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and knocking off the Seattle Seahawks, Daniel Jones proved that he could go toe-to-toe with the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
That said, he will lose more than he wins if he cannot get improved offensive line play from his five-man front. The Giants had the second-worst QB-sacked percentage in the NFL. Only the Philadelphia Eagles had a higher percentage of sacks result from their time on the scoring side of the ball.
The NY Giants offensive line has seen some changes this offseason, with the signing of Zach Fulton adding competition to start at right guard against Shane Lemieux and Will Hernandez. Former starter Kevin Zeitler signed a three-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens after New York released him before the FA period began.
Hernandez was the starting left guard this past season, but the Giants gave up an 8.82 QB-sacked percentage. Protecting Jones’s blind side will be of the utmost importance in order to preserve the former Duke QB for the long haul.
That’s why CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso has the NY Giants selecting stud G Rashawn Slater out of Northwestern:
Round 1 – Pick 11: Rashawn Slater OL, NORTHWESTERN • JR • 6’3″ / 305 LBS
PROJECTED TEAM: NY Giants
POSITION RNK: 2nd
With all the top pass catchers off the board, GM Dave Gettleman yells “INTO THE TRENCHES!” during his war room Zoom call, and picks Slater to be a movable piece upfront for Sir Daniel Dimes.
Trapasso has the top three receivers and tight end in the 2021 NFL Draft–JaMarr Chase, Da’vonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle, and Kyle Pitts, respectively–coming off the board consecutively within the top seven picks. He also has popular NY Giants defensive target Micah Parsons slipping to the #26 pick.
All five aforementioned targets figure to be higher priorities than Slater, although the Big Ten guard is the consensus #2 OL in the draft behind Penei Sewell out of Oregon. At least one of a group that includes Christian Darrisaw, Alex Leatherwood, Jalen Mayfield, Wyatt Davis, and Teven Jenkins could be available by the time the team selects again at #42 depending on how the draft shakes out, making OL less of a priority for Dave Gettleman.
That said, if they do go with Slater, they will be getting the driving force behind a Northwestern offensive line that ranked in the top 25 in QB-sacked percentage in a season that saw the Wildcats play half their games against teams that were ranked in the AP poll at one point in the 2020 season.
If the NY Giants can’t provide a threat in the passing game, Slater would provide the offense a threat-mitigator in the form of a six-foot-three, 305-pound OL superathlete from Texas.