Although the draft is deep in offensive linemen, one opinion of mine that hasn’t changed since I’ve started looking at the various draft possibilities is that the Giants must continue to add depth on this unit.
Right now, the projected starting lineup as of this writing—left tackle Will Beatty, left guard Geoff Schwartz, center J.D. Walton, right guard Chris Snee and right tackle Justin Pugh—carries too many unanswered questions.
The primary unanswered questions regarding the projected starters include:
- Can Snee make it through a 16-game season, and if he does, can he play at a high enough level?
- Is Beatty going to be ready to go following his season-ending broken leg, the recovery from which could very well keep him sidelined for most of the offseason program?
- What are they going to get out of Walton, who hasn’t played since 2012?
The questions regarding the depth aren't any better.
James Brewer had a golden opportunity to nail down a starting job last year at guard, only to fumble it away with inconsistent play.
Brandon Mosley showed some flashes, but between his inconsistency and a second-straight season-ending injury, it appears to be becoming hard to rely on him.
Eric Herman, one of two seventh-round draft picks last year, saw his development take a little bit longer than what was perhaps hoped for. He spent the majority of the season on the practice squad, and despite injuries and poor performance, he wasn't added to the 53-man roster until the very end of the season when they were out of options—and salary cap space.
So that leads us to 2014, where new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo told reporters during his conference call with them in February that the past is the past.
It's going to be a new operation on offense. There are some new coaches in place, and there are some coaches who have been here that are in different spots. But at the end of the day, everyone has a clean slate, and that is how we're going to start. And that is important for the players to know that.
While McAdoo's approach is admirable, it would be foolish for McAdoo and the Giants to completely ignore the past, especially when it comes to injury history and any limitations a player might have.
That’s why I think offensive line will probably be at the top of their draft list, specifically guard.
Why guard over tackle? The Giants signed veterans Charles Brown and John Jerry, both of whom have experience playing tackle and either of whom could fill in for Beatty if he's not ready to go.
Meanwhile at guard, Snee is entering his final season, regardless of where he stands health wise. Even if he’s healthy enough to start the year, I would not be surprised if at some point, the coaches eventually replace him with whoever is designated to be his successor.
I've been in favor of the Giants grabbing Zack Martin out of Notre Dame, but upon further contemplation, the fact that Martin hasn't had much experience playing guard could mean his transition to the NFL might take a bit longer than the team can perhaps afford to wait, especially given the questions about Snee.
I've recently started looking at UCLA's Xavier Su'a-Filo (6'4", 307 lbs) as a prospect whom the Giants could probably trade down to get, thus picking up extra picks to ensure they have all they need to address those remaining pressing needs.
Per NFL Draft Scout, Su'a-Filo is ranked as their second-best guard prospect, and there appears to be a lot to like about him as a prospect, according to Rob Rang's scouting report.
Su'a-Filo, who, per his college bio, started 13 games at left tackle in 2009 before moving to left guard in 2012 following a two-year Mormon mission, possesses good initial quickness and upper body strength to handle the bull rush, and has good balance to stay on his feet in pass protection while also possessing athleticism necessary to be successful in run blocking.
Although Su'a-Filo comes with some warts—Kyle Posey of DraftChargers.com noted that Su'a-Filo still needs some work with leverage, picking up stunts and getting to the second level—these would all appear to be correctable issues that good coaching can fix.
If Su'a-Filo can be had a little lower in the first round, the Giants would stand to get some excellent value in terms of landing an offensive lineman that can provide the depth and flexibility their offensive line desperately needs.
Patricia Traina is the senior editor for Inside Football. All quotes and information obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. Follow me on Twitter, @Patricia_Traina.