USA TODAY Sports
Even though he is only a rookie and a second-round pick to boot, Weston Richburg should be the Giants' starting center in 2014.
Starters: Will Beatty, LT; Geoff Schwartz, LG; Weston Richburg, C; Chris Snee, RG; Justin Pugh, RT
Backups: Charles Brown, T; James Brewer, T; Brandon Mosley, T; Troy Kropog, T; Steven Baker, T; ; J.D. Walton, C; Dallas Reynolds, C; John Jerry, G; Eric Herman, G; Stephen Goodin, G
There are several interesting storylines coming from this unit. First, Weston Richburg should be a plug-and-play option at center. The Giants were ecstatic to get him in the second round, and for good reason. His quickness and intelligence is ideal for Big Blue’s zone-blocking scheme. He is also a durable player who didn’t miss a game in four years at Colorado State.
J.D. Walton is the only other viable option to start over Richburg, but he hasn’t played since early in the 2012 season due to a severe ankle injury and wasn’t that effective even when he was on the field. In 2010 and 2011 with the Denver Broncos—his only two full seasons in the NFL—Walton posted minus-15.9 and minus-31.9 Pro Football Focus ratings, respectively.
Also, the health of Will Beatty and his ability to return to his 2012 form at left tackle is critical for the offensive line to rebound from its woes last season. Right now he is ahead of schedule in his recovery but still does not have a return date.
If he does return healthy, he’ll have to prove his performance last season, where he posted a minus-6.3 PFF rating and allowed 13 sacks, was an aberration. Beatty only allowed three sacks and had a 22.3 PFF rating in 2012.
If Beatty’s struggles continue or he fails to get healthy enough to play, free-agent acquisition Charles Brown, who started 14 games at left tackle in 2013 for the New Orleans Saints, would likely be the choice to replace him.
However, Brown posted a minus-9.3 PFF rating and allowed seven sacks as Drew Brees' blind side protector last season, so it is highly questionable whether he would be much of an upgrade over an absent or ineffective Beatty.
Finally, 32-year-old Chris Snee will look to reclaim the right guard spot after missing all but three games last season due to a hip injury. If his comeback fails, newcomer John Jerry, who started all 16 games at right guard for the Miami Dolphins in 2013 before signing with the Giants this offseason, would likely take Snee’s spot.