It’s not hard to make the case that guard was the New York Giants' weakest position in 2013. Six different players filled this crucial interior offensive-line role this past season for Big Blue, and the cumulative Pro Football Focus rating, over a total of 2,076 snaps, was a staggeringly bad minus-50.5.
David Diehl, Kevin Boothe and James Brewer took a majority of those snaps, 1,731 to be exact, and were a major reason for the awful play, with a combined PFF rating of minus-39.7.
The good news is that change appears inevitable, both due to the performance of this season's stable of guards and because Diehl and Boothe are unrestricted free agents. The former may be done playing altogether.
That leaves Brewer as the lone member of 2013’s terrible trio under contract for next season. He is locked up at a reasonable price, but he clearly can’t be depended on as a starter. He couldn’t get on the field during his first two seasons in the NFL and was bad in his 406 snaps at left and right guard in 2013, with a minus-8.3 PFF rating.
There is the lingering prospect that Chris Snee, who was a mainstay at right guard for the Giants from 2004-2012 before playing in only three games this past season due to a hip injury, could return as a healthy starting option. However, the 31-year-old’s bloated salary makes him a potential cap casualty, if he even decides to continue playing.
To be blunt, the Giants will likely need to acquire both a starting left and right guard this offseason through free agency or the draft.
The following five slides will detail the ideal options, at this early juncture, to do just that through both of those avenues. Free agents will be looked at first, followed by draft choices. All options, in each category, are ordered from best to worst.
Before diving in, the Justin Pugh factor needs to be addressed. The Giants' right tackle, who started all 16 games his rookie season and was easily the Giants' best offensive lineman with a 7.1 PFF rating, could be moved over to guard. This is based solely on his scouting report prior to the draft that deems him a good guard prospect, due to his short arm length and slender build.
Pugh is willing to make a move, per a report by Dan Benton of Giants 101, but the Giants have made no indication that this is what they want to do. In reality, it is a risky choice to make. Moving Pugh would force him to learn another new position (he played left tackle in college) and also open up a hole at right tackle.
The Giants are better off leaving Pugh alone.