Super Bowl Party Is Over: What the NY Giants' Line Looks Like for 2012

Colin Hughes@@colinhughesLAContributor IIFebruary 8, 2012

Kevin Boothe, Mitch Petrus, David Diehl, Jake Ballard
Kevin Boothe, Mitch Petrus, David Diehl, Jake BallardAl Bello/Getty Images

If the New York Giants hope to improve upon their league-worst rushing attack and do a better job of protecting two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, they need to shake up their line.

They have some of the parts they need, but the Super Bowl-winning line will be mostly absent when the 2012 season kicks off. 

Starting the season, the Giants had Will Beatty at left tackle, David Diehl at left guard, David Baas at center, Chris Snee at right guard and Kareem McKenzie at right tackle. When Beattywas placed on IR due to a non-football injury, Diehl moved out to LT (where he started the previous five seasons) and Kevin Boothe stepped into the RG position.

Boothe is an extremely valuable backup who can play all three interior line positions. The Giants will retain him, but he is not—and cannot—be a starter if the Giants hope to improve. 

McKenzie is coming off his worst year in the league and is currently a free agent. The Giants should not re-sign him, and if Shaun O'Hara and Rich Seubert are any indication of what Jerry Reese will do, look for McKenzie to join his former teammates somewhere on the Jersey Shore. 

Beatty did not impress many fans early in the season, but he is a much better option than Diehl at the tackle position.

That leaves one reserve player who could fight for a starting spot: 2011 draft selection James Brewer.

Reese believed Brewer had the talent to be an LT in the NFL when he drafted him. If that prediction is correct, the battle will be between Brewer and Beatty to see which side of the line they start on.

If Brewer is not ready, the Giants will need to draft or hit the free agent market, as Diehl will serve the team best coming off the bench next season. 

If the Giants can afford either of free agents Jared Gaither or Demetrius Bell, it would be a drastic improvement. Potential tackles that could fall to into Reese's hands in the first or second rounds of the draft include Jonathan MartinMike Adams or Zebrie Sanders, any of whom could potentially be a Day 1 starter.  

Chris Snee is safe at RG. He is the Giants' anchor and has been the most consistent lineman for the team dating back to 2007 Super Bowl.

At LG, where Diehl started the 2011 season, the Giants are grooming a young beast in Mitch Petrus.

He is freakishly strong and has a mean streak, and he instantly improves the Giants rushing attack. It will come down to pass-blocking, and while Diehl has the experience and possibly the edge, Petrus will prove to be too much for Diehl to handle.

Petrus showed flashes of becoming a future star for the Giants in limited playing time this season. If Diehl is starting on the line—in any position—it is a sure indicator that the Giants had a bad offseason. 

In the 2011 offseason, Reese considered center David Baas his most important free-agent acquisition, and he may be questioning that now. Baas was often injured last season, and when he was healthy he was inconsistent at best.

While Baas is not a long-term solution at C, backup Jim Cordle is not good enough to compete for the role (as evidenced by the Giants shifting Boothe to C when Baas was out). The starting center for the Giants may not be on the roster yet.

Scott Wells is the best free-agent center and would be a huge improvement over Baas, though ultimately his price tag will be to great for the Giants and they may have to turn to the draft. 

Peter Konz out of Stanford is the only center in the draft who has the goods to start from Day 1, although it is unlikely that he will fall to the Giants at the 32nd pick. It is possible that Reese could steal Georgia's Ben Jones late in the second round, who could battle Baas for his starting spot.

Lost will be McKenzie, Diehl, Boothe and possibly even Baas—a huge shakeup, which is exactly what the Giants need to get their running game back on track.