New York Giants: Why Not Addressing OL Early in the 2011 Draft Could Cost Them

Jeff Shull@Jeff_ShullAnalyst IMay 19, 2011

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 28:  Rich Seubert #69 of the New York Giants is introduced before the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars  on November 28, 2010 at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

After the 2011 NFL draft, the critics were in full force to blame the Giants for not addressing the offensive line until the fourth round, and even more so for not drafting an interior lineman.

I was not one of those critics.

The Giants got tremendous value out of their selections and this could be one of the best drafts Jerry Reese has ever had when it is all said an done.

The 2007 and 2008 drafts were both very good, but this draft could end up topping both. The first two picks—Prince Amukamara and Marvin Austin—were rated as top-15 players by the Giants and they were taken with the 19th and 52nd picks.

Jerrel Jernigan had a second-round grade and was selected in the third round, but not only that, he could end up filling a huge hole left by Steve Smith in the first half of the season.

According to a report by Pro Football Weekly, Smith might have to start the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. If that happens, the Jernigan pick is going to look brilliant.

However, not addressing the offensive line early could end up hurting the Giants in the short term, and only in the short term.

The Giants like James Brewer and his potential, but he is not ready to start right away. I fear that with the aging of the Giants offensive lineman, another season with injuries to the group would not go as well as it did in 2010.

Last year, the Giants led the league in sacks allowed and incredibly had a fantastic season in terms of offensive line play despite losing their first two options at center for much of the season. Shaun O'Hara missed 10 games and his replacement Adam Koets was lost for the season with an ACL injury after starting five games in place of O'Hara.

The Giants also lost David Diehl for several games—Shawn Andrews and Kevin Boothe played well at left tackle and left guard when Diehl and O'hara were out; however, the Giants will likely be without one or the other next season, so injuries to the offensive line would not be met with the same depth as last year.

We also have to take into account the seriousness of Rich Seubert's injury—it was him who kept the Giants' line playing so well when he took over at center. He is entering his 11th season in the NFL and coming off a dislocated kneecap he suffered in the final game of the season.

The rehab is intense and he may not be ready to go when the season starts. If Boothe is released like I expect him to be, then that puts the onus on rookie Mitch Petrus to fill the void. Jerry Reese seemed confident in him during his pre-draft press conference, but he has been wrong before.

If the Giants line stays healthy, they will get back to being that dominant group, but any injuries could spell trouble.