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Offensive Line Shuffle: Gates to Guard?

The New York Giants have a reoccurring problem with the offensive line. It is the one position that has struggled under both general managers, quite frankly since 2013. The Giants spent their 2020 fourth overall pick on tackle Andrew Thomas. Thomas had some growing pains last year, but he also battled through an injury during the season that could have held him back from his full potential. The Giants lost one of their best offensive lineman this offseason with cutting Kevin Zeitler, who later signed with the Ravens. The Giants next best offensive linemen would probably be Nick Gates.

Gates was an undrafted free agent in 2018. Gates didn’t see much action until 2019 where he played a majority of snaps at RT (198) and 77 at guard. Gates was then given the opportunity to start at center in 2020, which caught many by surprise. He really had no other competition besides Spencer Pulley who is more of a backup anyways. Gates stepped in an played 1,014 snaps at center this past season and never once gave up a sack. Many thought Gates played much better than what was initially thought by the move of general manager Dave Gettleman, but his PFF grades were iffy. He had an overall grade of 59.7, run blocking of 61.0 and pass blocking of 63.1. Although he played much less snaps in 2019, his grades were much better. His overall was 77.0, run blocking of 75.9 and pass blocking of 71.5.

Would it be a bad idea to move Gates from center to guard? There’s two thoughts on this. Jones and Gates have familiarity and chemistry together. The most important part is the exchange. Gates and Jones have that down. If they change centers, it could throw off the exchange or chemistry, even though that’s something that can be adapted. The positive of it, guard and center are very similar. The obvious difference is one snaps the football and one doesn’t. The center’s job focuses more on providing extra help to the guards and being responsible to call out any blocking assignments. The guards pull more than the centers so they would have to be quicker. If a player can play center and be very productive at it, they would be able to play guard with no problem.

Below are some plays demonstrating Nick Gates ability to pull on the offensive line.

If Gates moves to guard, who would play center? The Giants could turn to the draft for center. Players like Landon Dickerson from Alabama, Creed Humphrey from Oklahoma, and Josh Myers from Ohio State could all be options. Since these prospects are true centers that played the position, there would be no questions whether they could step in that spot or not. They aren’t taking a gamble like they did with Gates (which did seem to work).

The alternative to this decision, Gates could stay at center and Dickerson, Humphrey, etc could move to guard. As I said above, if they are solid at center, they should be just fine playing guard. The definite way the Giants can fix their offensive line is if they have the ability to draft tackle Rashawn Slater in the first round and a player like Landon Dickerson in the second. My Giants dream offensive line for 2021 would be: LT: Andrew Thomas, LG: Nick Gates, C: Landon Dickerson, RG: Rashawn Slater, RT: Matt Peart.

Why have Slater at RG even though he is a tackle? Many scouts have been stating they worry about his arm length, and that he very well could make a better guard than tackle in the NFL. For the Giants it’s a win-win, they need both a RT and a RG. Slater would be a great pick for either spot. Matt Peart should take more snaps at RT as his sample size was not enough last season. If the Giants offensive line was able to look like that in 2021, I would consider it an upgrade. The part that many may be against is that Will Hernandez and Shane Leimuex are not on that list of starters. It is mostly because they have not done enough to be a guaranteed starter next season. Leimuex struggled big time against the pass rush last year and Hernandez has been off his game over last season. The Giants may very well give Leimuex or Hernandez another shot and go with almost the same line as last year. I don’t think that is the best way to go but that is out of my control.

Either way, this Giants offensive line needs to step up. It has been the detrimental part of the offense for the last 7 years or more. If they can start solidifying and building the line for the future, the Giants could be a sleeper team to make a big leap in 2021.

Featured Image Credit: All-Pro Reels from District of Columbia, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

About Dylan Davis

Dylan Davis is a graduate of the State University of New York at Canton, where he obtained a B.A.A in Sport Management. He is a former athlete of football and baseball and sports fan for much of his life. Dylan creates content for 366 Sports and New York Giants 366, and is also a host on his own show, “The J&D Sports Show”.

Twitter: @_TheDylanDavis_


Instagram: @dylan15dd

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