The New York Giants have done a good job beefing up their roster over the past two seasons, but that’s not to say some issues don’t continue to persist.
Case in point: the offensive line.
Although the Giants themselves are comfortable and confident in the group of players they have, precious few others are. There are questions at all five positions but perhaps none more so than at the two guard spots.
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A year ago, Will Hernandez found himself supplanted by rookie Shane Lemieux after a battle with COVID-19, while the team’s veteran, Kevin Zeitler, was released this offseason in a cost-cutting measure. In his place, the Giants signed veteran Zach Fulton, creating a three-way battle for the two guard spots.
Early speculation is that Lemieux will resume his role as the starting left guard, while Hernandez and Fulton will battle it out for the right guard spot. But regardless of who ends up where, Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report maintains the guard position is an essential black hole for the Giants and something that must be addressed prior to the start of the 2021 regular-season.
The New York Giants may have just enough upside and experience at offensive tackle with early 2020 draft picks Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart teaming up with veteran Nate Solder. And they may even have themselves a center in Nick Gates, who flashed as an every-game starter in 2020.
But the guard position continues to be a concern.
The top three candidates for those two starting jobs are Shane Lemieux (who struggled mightily as a rookie fifth-round pick in 2020), Will Hernandez (who has generally disappointed as a 2018 second-round pick) and vet Zach Fulton (who was a high-priced bust in three years with the Texans).
The odds are against even two of those three players emerging, and there isn’t a lot else there. Might they be able to convince David DeCastro to come aboard in a make-or-break year for quarterback Daniel Jones?
It’s hard to argue with Gagnon’s logic. The idea that Lemieux will emerge as a star, Hernandez will rebound and finally reach his potential and/or Fulton turns things back up a few notches at 30 years old (turns 30 in September) are slim-to-none. One of those things? Sure. But two or potentially all three? Not so much.
Unfortunately for the Giants, barring a trade for a top-end starter, there isn’t much left out on the free agent market. It’s unclear if David DeCastro will retire or return to the NFL and outside of him, well… those players all remain unsigned for a reason.
The Giants will have to trudge forward with what they have an hope to beat the odds.
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