Chris Snee's retirement marks the end of an era for the New York Giants' offensive line.
Snee anchored New York's "O" from the right guard position for 10 seasons. He was selected for the Pro Bowl four times, and from 2008-2010 there may not have been a better interior offensive lineman across the league. Since drafting Snee in the second round of the 2004 draft (34 overall), the Boston College product has been all Eli Manning, Tom Coughlin and the rest of the Giants have known at right guard.
Now, for the first time in a decade, New York is in search of a full-time replacement at Snee's old position.
So, Giants fans, I'd like you to meet Brandon Mosley, the nearly anonymous lineman with a good shot to take over the job.
New York drafted Mosley back in 2012, when Snee was still a Pro Bowler. The fourth-round selection first played at Coffeyville (Kansas) Community College, where he played defensive end and tight end. Mosley did not make the shift to offensive line until he transferred to Auburn, closer to his hometown of Jefferson, Ga.
At Auburn, Mosley mostly played tackle. In 2010, his junior year, Mosley's offense averaged 284.8 rushing yards per game en route to an undefeated national championship. Auburn wasn't as dangerous without Cam Newton at quarterback during Mosley's senior year, but the Tigers' O-line was still able to pave the way for the SEC's second-leading rusher in Michael Dyer, who finished the season with 1,242 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Mosley was named All-SEC Second Team and was invited to the Senior Bowl for his efforts in 2011.
With just two years of experience as an offensive lineman and an NFL Scouting Combine performance that was only so-so, NFL.com expected him to be a seventh-round developmental project. The fact he played in a spread offense at Auburn was detrimental to his projected value in a pro-style offense.
The Giants, however, saw enough potential in Mosley, who measured 6'6" and 314 pounds at the combine, to draft him in the fourth round. That potential was at guard.
|Brandon Mosley: 2012 NFL Scouting Combine Results|
|40-yd Dash||Bench Press||Vert Jump||Broad Jump||3-Cone Drill||20-yd Shuttle|
|5.21 sec.||30 reps||27"||103"||7.43 sec.*||4.78 sec.|
* denotes workout in which Mosley was a top performer.
Through his first two NFL seasons, Mosley has been a work in progress. He spent his entire rookie season on New York's injured reserve list with a bum ankle. After the season, general manager Jerry Reese lumped Mosley in with 2012 sixth-round selection Matt McCants, an offensive lineman who spent his rookie year on the practice squad.
"They’re both developmental kids, and they’ll have the offseason program, and hopefully they can give us some depth. And who knows? Maybe one of them will be a starter at some point," Reese told Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger.
McCants was eventually cut and subsequently signed by the Oakland Raiders, but Mosley stuck throughout the 2013 season. He was not a major contributor on offense, appearing mostly on special teams in his 13 games played last season.
Mosley did earn one start late in the season when the Giants' offensive line lost David Diehl (knee) for a game against the Detroit Lions in Week 16. The game was an overtime thriller, but Mosley only saw action in the first quarter. He broke his hand in the early goings and was replaced by Dallas Reynolds for the remainder of the contest.
Still, upon review of this limited sample size vs. the Lions, much is revealed about the mystery that is Brandon Mosley.
Let's take a look at some screen-grabs from the game film:
On the Giants' first offensive play, the Lions clearly tried to take advantage of the inexperienced youngster in the starting lineup. Two Detroit defenders bull rush right into Mosley, who holds his ground just long enough for Manning to get off a quick slant to Hakeem Nicks.
The result is a 15-yard gain and a solid first impression for Mosley.
Several times in the first quarter, Mosley took on Ndamukong Suh, a 2013 All-Pro, in one-on-one situations. He was pretty successful, too. In the play above, Mosley neutralizes Suh's pass rush almost immediately. He never loses his balance, giving Manning a clean pocket to take a deep dropback and look downfield for an open receiver.
The result is an incomplete deep strike intended for Rueben Randle.
In the play above, Mosley is again matched up with Suh in a one-on-one situation. This time Suh nearly gets around him, but Mosley recovers well and keeps his body in between the passer and the pass-rusher.
The result is an 18-yard completion to Jerrel Jernigan.
Here's a closer look at the previous play. Mosley's appears to be on his heels, and he may have gotten away with a bit of a hold on Suh. Regardless, Manning does not appear concerned as his eyes are still locked downfield, and the play results in a fresh set of downs.
On the running play above, Mosley is overpowered, driven into the offensive backfield and ends up chasing his man. This disrupts the runner, Michael Cox, before he even gets to the hole, allowing safety Louis Delmas to catch him from behind. Suh, Mosley's man, helps out on the tackle.
The result is a rush for no gain, essentially a lost down.
Mosley performs much better on this running play, a draw to Andre Brown. After chipping in to his left to help open the hole, Mosley quickly makes his way to the second level, where he decks a Detroit linebacker (with a little help from a kneeling Will Beatty). If Kevin Boothe and James Brewer aren't manhandled in the backfield, this could have been a long gain.
The result, instead, is a two-yard rush by Brown.
What Mosley lacks in experience, he makes up for in confidence. Although he lacks Snee's pedigree, he could actually be an upgrade at right guard in 2014. For starters, Mosley has the prerequisite mentality for success, per a Tweet by Tom Rock of Newsday:
Snee missed only one game from 2005-2012, but last season he only appeared in three games. When healthy enough to play, there was no one better than Snee, as evidenced by the fact he started all 141 of the games in which he played.
The hip and elbow injuries Snee suffered late in his career sucked a lot of strength from his body, which ultimately led to his retirement. Had Snee, at age 32, taken the field in 2014, the right guard would not have resembled anything close to the All-Pro he was in 2008.
Mosley, on the other hand, is 25 years old and just now reaching his prime physical condition (even though he was carted off the practice field on the first day of training camp with a "heat-related" issue). He has two seasons worth of NFL experience under his belt, and the Giants appear committed to his development.
The Giants' interior offensive line will look very different this season; Mosley has a chance to become New York's newest mainstay.
*All statistical information courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, unless linked or noted otherwise.