Thursday, April 26, 2012

New York Giants Draft Preview: Offensive Line

This is the 5th installment in the series of posts breaking down the Giants position by position for the upcoming NFL Draft.  The next position up is Offensive Line.

The Giants depth chart on the offensive line includes Guards Chris Snee, Chris White and Mitch Petrus, Tackles Will Beatty, James Brewer, Selvish Capers and Joel Reinders, Centers David Baas and Jim Cordle, and combo linemen David Diehl, Sean Locklear and Kevin Boothe.  The Giants also have free agents Kareem McKenzie, Stacy Andrews and Tony Ugoh on the market.

Last season the Giants underwent a huge overhaul across the offensive line.  They started the season with three positions not returning starters from the previous season.  Throughout the season the line was raved by injuries, causing more changes to be made.

This season will be no different, as longtime starter Kareem McKenzie was released and not expected to be retained.  That means Eli Manning will have a new right tackle at the very least. 

Brewer has been mentioned by Reese as a potential player in all of this.  He was selected last season in the fourth round and looked at as a project, but is expected to compete for the right tackle position throughout camp.  Beatty has been cleared to play and is expected to assume his role as the starting Left Tackle. 

Boothe was a valuable contributor all over the line last season.  Boothe ended up getting playing time at both Guard and Center last season and has a legitimate chance of being named the Left Guard this season.  Petrus filled in admirably in three games started last year at Left Guard.  Baas was the marquee free agent acquisition for the Giants last off-season, but did not exactly live up to expectations.  He had an up and down season fighting nagging injuries, but ended it with a Super Bowl victory.

Sean Locklear is the wild card here.  He was brought in with the potential to be an extra blocker for the team, but he has his sights set higher than that.  Locklear is looking to become the starting Right Tackle for the team.  The former Redskin and Seahawk is a grizzled veteran, playing in 105 regular season games and starting 82 of them.  Locklear was a main cog in the Seattle Seahawks run to the Super Bowl in 2005. 

The last offensive lineman the Giants drafted was James Brewer last season in the fourth round out of Indiana University.  Brewer was drafted as a project last season, and the Giants could potentially go in the same direction this year.  The only way the Giants take an offensive lineman with their first pick this year is if that player is the highest rated player remaining on the board.  Mike Adams of Ohio State University could potentially be there when the Giants draft at 32 in the first round.  Another option a little later in the draft is California University’s Mitchell Schwartz.

On a scale of 1-10, I would rate the necessity of adding an offensive lineman as a 5 for the Giants.  They have a lot of flexibility currently on the roster, but it never hurts adding more depth. 

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