Keidel: Giants Should Consider Trading No. 4 Pick To Focus On Linemen

New York's Offensive Line Could Really Use Some Help

Jason Keidel
March 24, 2020 - 12:24 pm
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The Giants chose patience and prudence this winter. Instead of gorging on the long buffet of free agent ballers this offseason, the Giants passed on players - from Jadeveon Clowney to Byron Jones to Tom Brady - who would have made a big splash but a bigger dent in their payroll. 

But there are two inescapable truths in the NFL. You must be able to rush the opposing quarterback and protect your own. To address the latter, the Giants should ponder dealing the fourth overall pick in the NFL draft to a quarterback-starved team and feast on the fertile group of offensive linemen coming out of college. 

All three pundits from CBSSports.com, Ryan Wilson, Pete Prisco and Chris Trapasso, have Joe Burrow and Chase Young being picked first and second respectively in mock drafts. None of them have quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert going to the Lions at No. 3, which puts Big Blue in a position of high leverage. Teams may want to leapfrog Miami at No. 5 and steal their franchise QB before the Dolphins grab one of them.  

The Los Angeles Chargers (No. 6), Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 9) and perhaps the Las Vegas Raiders (No. 12) will be looking for passers. Heck, Miami has three picks in the first round, and could preemptively give the G-Men two of them for the right to pick Tagovailoa or Herbert sans interference from the rest of the league. No matter how it shakes out, the Giants don't have just one need that the fourth pick can fill. They have their QB of the future in Daniel Jones. They have a star running back in Saquon Barkley, a wildly gifted tight end in Evan Engram and are at least three-deep at wide receiver. 

So, with a deftly-dealt draft pick, the Giants can muse over the "Hog Mollies" that make general manager Dave Gettleman grin. This draft class is loaded with linemen who can help Daniel Jones with his surreal fumbling issues from last year. Tristan Wirfs, Andrew Thomas, Mekhi Becton and Josh Jones are just a few of the potential pillars they can plug and play on the offensive line, and all but Wirfs played left tackle, perfect for protecting the blindside of Danny Dimes. 

Offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs of the Iowa Hawkeyes celebrates with teammates after their match-up against the Nebraska Cornhuskers on November 23, 2018 at Kinnick Stadium, in Iowa City, Iowa.
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

In all, there are at least six road graders in the first round. The Giants would also do well to trade their top pick for the option of picking up even more linemen. It's tough to say that Nate Solder has lived up to his billing. Will Hernandez has hardly been John Hannah. Kevin Zeitler, whom the Giants got in a trade with the Cleveland Browns, has been their most robust blocker, but he's 30 and the Giants need to get younger, and better, if Jones is to mature into a franchise QB. 

Getting better isn't always sexy. The San Francisco 49ers reached the Super Bowl by drafting a small army of defensive linemen, featuring four first-round picks in their starting lineup, including the best young pass rusher in the NFL, Nick Bosa. 

Likewise, clubs with stout offensive lines, from Pittsburgh to Dallas to Philadelphia, often find themselves on the right side of .500. According to Pro Football Focus, four of the top six offensive lines - those of the Eagles, Ravens, Saints and Packers - reached the playoffs last season.

For all the pomp around passing games, bulging stats and record-setting TD totals league-wide, games are still won and lost at the line of scrimmage. So, unless you can find another Patrick Mahomes and flank him with a laughable litany of gifted wideouts and the best tight end in the NFL, you'd better block and tackle better than the other guys.

The Giants showed prudence during free agency, eschewing headlines and head-scratching deals for the muted moves that smooth out bumpy rosters. They can deal the fourth pick and double-down on linemen. After picking their first Hog Mollie, they can grab another later in the first or early in the second round. Picking Cesar Ruiz, Matt Peart, or Ezra Cleveland would give the G-Men two top flight linemen in one draft. 

It's not as sexy as picking a quarterback, but the Giants don't need one. The only thing sexier than a splashy draft pick on day one of the NFL Draft is a win in Week 1 of the NFL season.

You can follow Jason on Twitter: @JasonKeidel

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