By Michael Basile @MdoubleJB
The Good. The Bad. The Ugly
I love camp battles and for the first time in almost a decade, the NYGiants offensive line is primed to be a strength of the team. In recent seasons it’s been more of an Achilles heel, so let’s take a look at some of the camp battles that are going to shape this unit as we head into the 2019 s
Tackles: Projected Starters
Left: On the left side, it’s Nate Solder. He is healing from offseason ankle surgery and questionable for camp, but progressing nicely. He should be ready for the start of the season. He started slowly with Big Blue after signing a massive free-agent contract to leave New England in 2018. The second half of his first season was much better. This was just how his 2017 campaign for the Patriots played out. In 2019 we’ll see if he has a slow first month. It would be nice to see him break old habits.
Right: On the right side it’s newly acquired Mike Remmers. After minor offseason back surgery, he failed a physical with the Minnesota Vikings. He is 30 years old and has started 27 games for the Vikings but he will have competition if he falters. Wheeler could start if Remmers back is not 100%. If he is healthy…camp or no camp he starts. If he can regain his form, the offseason move will look great. PFF graded him here: He is 6’5” 310 lbs https://www.profootballfocus.com/nfl/players/mike-remmers/7431. In 2017 though he was a highly rated tackle, hope he has his sights on 2017.
The main camp battles are for backup here. Former undrafted Tackle Chad Wheeler (USC) played hard for the Giants but was clearly the weak link as a starter last season. He’s only 25 and is 6’7” 312 lbs but is overmatched against speed rushers. He has the experience and the skills to plug in and be a swing tackle. He will compete with Brian Mihalik; Mihalik is 26 years old, 6’9” and 315 lbs. Rookie 7th round pick from Kentucky George Asfao-Adjei is more of a project so don’t expect too much from him this season.
Project starters: Center/Guard
Left: No battle here. Will Hernandez at LG is coming off a strong rookie season and is primed to take a step forward in year two.
Right: No battle here. Kevin Zeitler will take over the Giants starting Right Guard. He was acquired in the Olivier Vernon trade with Cleveland. In 2018 Zeitler was one of the top-rated pass-blocking guards in the league. He’s 29 years old and should be a significant upgraded.
Jon Hilapio was the starting center before suffering a broken leg. Shurmur and the coaching staff love his game and immediately re-signed him in the offseason when shaping the roster.
Spencer Pulley got paid in the off-season stemming from his nice play after Hilapio went down with an injury. Pulley had nice chemistry with Brown and Hernandez helping Barkley truly jump-start his season. Most likely, Pulley will battle Pio for the starting job. If for some reason Pulley losses the starting job at Center he can also slide in at guard ahead of Gates and Slade.
Nick Gates, a 2018 undrafted free agent from Nebraska will fight for a roster spot against Chad Slade. Slade is 6’5” 315 lbs and spent the last 4 years with the Houston Texans.
This unit is ready to lead the Giants offense this season, and Saquon Barkley and Eli Manning are depending on the big boys upfront to perform at a high level for the team to succeed.