Heading into the 2020 NFL Draft, the New York football Giants seemed to have one goal in mind, and that was to get some protection for Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley. First year head coach Joe Judge and Giants’ GM Dave Gettleman have a tall task in front of them in building an offensive line for a team that has seemed to have trouble since 2011 in keeping Eli Manning (and now Jones) clean in the pocket.
Thomas was a three-year star at Georgia standing 6-foot-5 and weighing in at 315 pounds. Thomas played in some big games at Georgia and came up big in said games. In 2018 and 2019, Thomas was first-team All-American, and was a two-time All-SEC selection. In 2019, he was awarded the Jacobs Blocking Trophy (conference’s best blocker).
As a freshman, Thomas started all 15 games for the Bulldogs at right tackle, before moving to left tackle in his sophomore year, where he earned second-team Associated Press All-American honors, and first-team All-SEC honors. His junior year, Thomas started all 13 games, and only missed one game, the 2019 Sugar Bowl, to prepare for the draft.
Thomas is consistent, quite possibly the most consistent tackle in the draft, and with him going up against the top pass rushers in the very challenging SEC, it should translate well into the NFL. With Chase Young now in Washington, and the presence of DeMarcus Lawrence in Dallas and Brandon Graham in Philadelphia, Thomas will have the chance to show his worth right out of the gate.
Gettleman made it clear that getting a lineman to help the development of Daniel Jones was a priory. “I always chuckle when when people say “You draft a QB, you get him weapons. No, when you draft a QB you get people in front of him. This was an important piece for us”.
Drafting Thomas doesn’t only help Danny Dimes, it also helps star running back Saquon Barkley. One of Barkley’s most impressive qualities is his ability to make guys miss and break tackles. But it has to take a toll on Barkley that he continuously has to break tackles in the back field before he can even get a chance to run in open field.
In two seasons (29 games) Barkley has rushed for over 2,300 yards with 17 touchdowns behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Imagine Barkley with the line that Ezekiel Elliot has. Of the 2,310 rushing yards in Barkley’s career, 1,341 of those yards have been after contact with just 969 yards before contact. Andrew Thomas will look to come in and open up some lanes for the Giants star running back.
Last season the left tackle position was held by the $62M man Nate Solder, but before the draft Gettleman did say that Solder didn’t play well enough in 2019 and even declined to name Solder the starter at the position. “Nate had a rough year last year, nobody is denying that, and certainly he is not,” Gettleman said. “We’re going to bring in people to compete.”
After the draft, Gettleman doubled down when asked about Thomas potentially taking Solder’s spot. “I am going to say the same thing to him that I said to Saquon and that I said to Daniel, ‘You have to come in and compete, nothing is getting handed to you,'” Gettleman said. “He’s big, he’s long, he’s strong, he can bend. He can anchor run in pass (protection). He’s very athletic in the open field, we are just really excited to have him, and continue to build this team properly.”
All in all, I believe this is a terrific choice for the New York Giants. Since the 2011 Super Bowl Champion team that featured names like David Diehl, Chris Snee, and Kareem McKenzie, the Giants offensive line has been atrocious. Draft bust Ereck Flowers didn’t pan out at all, and Justin Pugh did have signs of brightness, but left the team after the 2017 season.
Adding Thomas to an offensive line that has small bright spots in Will Hernandez and Kevin Zeitler is definitely a step in the right direction, and one Joe Judge and Dave Gettleman had to take.
Featured Image: USA TODAY Sports
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