Battle at the Center Position

By Spiro Kasabien @nyspwatsguy_spi

Center of Attention

The Giants are amid Phase 1 of overhauling their Offensive Line and the center of attention is being found in a unique place. The Giants are amid Phase 1 of overhauling their Offensive Line and the center of attention is being found in a unique place.Alas, Rome was not built-in one day, and neither will this offensive line.

In the middle of this reconstruction, two nondescript players battling it out for the right to snap to No. 10.  The battle pits two 26-year-olds against each other, each battling for not only the starting center position for the New York Giants, but possibly their NFL careers.

The Incumbent: Brett Jones

Brett Jones hails from Weyburn, Saskatchewan.  Jones came into the league by way of the CFL, where he excelled and won the CFL’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman Award in 2014.   Jones with the Giants as an undrafted Free Agent in 2015.  He is an undersized lineman (6’2” 312 lb) that started 13 games for the Giants last year after taking over for an injured Weston Richburg.

Jones turned some heads last year and provided good play anchoring a weak Giants Offensive Line.  The Giants thought so much of Jones that they let former 2nd round draft pick Weston Richburg walk.  Jones doesn’t stand out in any one area, but what he lacks in size, he makes up for with grit, leverage, and smarts.  Jones scored 43 (out of 50) on his Wonderlic.  The average Center score being a 25.  Jones will look to build on his first year momentum and solidify the Center position.

The Challenger: Jon Halapio

Jon Halapio is born and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he subsequently went on to play for the local Florida Gators.  He was a team captain in 2012 and 2013 and started 43 of 51 games at Guard.  He was drafted in the 6th Round of the 2014 by the New England Patriots, but was cut before making the final team.

It bodes well that Bill Belichick saw something in this kid to warrant drafting him.  What Belichick saw was a heavy-handed, warrior of a man who played through injury and was an above average run-blocker.  The former Gator plays great “in a phone booth” but seems to get a bit lost in space.  He only started snapping 3 years ago, and is still learning on the job.

Halapio bounced around the NFL for the next 3 years, making stops in Denver, Arizona and a second stint with the Patriots.   In September 2016, the Giants picked Halapio up and signed him to their practice squad.  When D.J. Fluker went down late last year, Halapio stepped in and made his first career start at Right Guard.

The Giants saw enough of the young, plus-sized Halapio (6’2” 320) that they decided to sign him back in 2018.  Coach Shurmur has sung his praises during the OTA sessions, and have even given Halapio first team snaps at the Center position, alternating with Jones.

This will be an important battle to monitor throughout the rest of mini-camp and training camp.  This offensive line is being rebuilt from scratch, and the Giant coaches and GM have no favoritism to either player.  The best player will win the job, plain and simple.