This is the time of year when no news is good news for the New York Giants — and the NFL as a whole. When we see a news story come across in the second half of June and into July, it’s rarely good news.
There just isn’t much going on in the NFL between mandatory mini camps and the start of training camp. This is period is really the only true “off-season” on the NFL calendar. The lull in the daily news cycle gives outlets a chance to take stock of the moves teams made over the winter and spring, and look forward to the coming season. That usually takes the form of lists and rankings, such as the pre-season offensive line rankings released by Pro Football Focus.
This year PFF has ranked the Giants’ rebuilt offensive line 18th in the NFL, right at the top of Tier 4 – or the “At least one good Tackle” tier.
18. New York Giants
Projected starting lineup
LT: Andrew Thomas
LG: Shane Lemieux
C: Jon Feliciano
RG: Mark Glowinski
RT: Evan Neal
That one good tackle is former fourth overall pick Andrew Thomas, although Evan Neal is a promising rookie. Thomas’ abysmal rookie season is still ingrained in a lot of minds, but many missed him become one of the best pass-protecting tackles in the league last year. He allowed only 18 pressures on 517 pass-blocking snaps after giving up 57 as a rookie.
This is a marked improvement over their ranking from a year ago, when the Giants’ line was ranked dead last in the NFL.
Thomas has developed into the player many believed he could be coming out of Georgia, and much of the Giants’ fortunes rest on him at least maintaining that level of play. Likewise, the team is heavily invested in Evan Neal becoming a quality bookend for Thomas on the right side of the line. The NFC East is absolutely loaded with dangerous pass rushers, and no team can really “get by” with just one capable pass protecting tackle.
While the Giants’ line looks better on paper heading into the 2022 season than it did in 2021, there are certainly still questions. In particular, the Giants’ interior offensive line has a number of question marks.
Shane Lemieux was the starter at left guard throughout the spring. It’s great to see him back on the field after a season-ending injury a year ago. And while he is certainly a powerful run blocker, he’s a very limited pass protector who was often a liability in 2020. Rookie Joshua Ezeudu is also in the running for left guard, but he’s a rookie and his value early in his career could come more from his ability to back up four positions than starting at any one. Ben Bredeson showed himself to be a fine backup last year, but not a player teams want to rely on as a starter. Jamil Douglas has been a career backup and has only started 11 of 50 games since 2015.
The Giants seem to be counting on Jon Feliciano to start at center, but it’s worth noting that the 30-year old only has 323 snaps at the position, only eight of which came in the last year.
Mark Glowinski should be a moderating force at right guard. He’s started all but three games over the last three seasons for the Indianapolis Colts and has been a reliable player for them. He missed time with COVID-19 last season, but has otherwise been durable of late. He, along with Feliciano and Douglas, are over 30, and Giants fans have seen a number of formerly reliable linemen’s play degrade badly after their 30th birthdays. However, while Glowinski might not be a long-term answer, he at least should be a dependable starter for the Giants in 2022. And that would be good news for Evan Neal, who could use a dependable veteran next to him as he goes through his rookie season.
While PFF ranks each of the Giants’ divisional rivals above them, the Giants’ own ranking doesn’t feel wildly off the mark. They have players who could step up and be good starters, but they also have questions that could turn out to be problems for them in 2022. We’ll have to see how those questions get answered on the field, but at least there’s reason for hope. That’s more than we could say about the offensive line at this point a year ago.