Apr 112013
New York Giants 2013 NFL Draft Preview: Offensive Tackle

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

Current OTs on the Giants Roster:

Will Beatty – 28 Years Old – Signed Through 2017

David Diehl – 32 Years Old – Signed Through 2013

Matt McCants – 23 Years Old – Signed Through 2014

James Brewer – 25 Years Old – Signed Through 2014

Levy Adcock – 24 Years Old – Signed Through 2014

Where They Stand:

There is a sense of insecurity at offensive tackle, more notably on the right side.  Diehl appears to be the guy for the job, finishing where he started his career.  He has fallen off fast however and is no longer the reliable, week-to-week road grader that gets the job done.  He had to re-structure his contract in order to hold his roster spot in 2013.  There is a good chance this will be his last year in New York.  On the left side, Reese has made a long term commitment to Beatty.  This will be his fifth year in the league.  He has developed physically and refined his technique as a pass blocker.  Even with that in mind, Beatty has limited upside and I’m not sold on him being the guy that will protect Manning’s blind side for the second half of his career.  Behind the two starters are McCants and Brewer.  Both are good athletes that have yet to play their best football.  They will stick around for another year or two, but neither project to be starting caliber tackles on championship teams.  Adcock is a practice squad body that will not factor in to the decision process draft weekend.

Top 10 Grades:

Eric Fisher – 6’7/306 – Central Michigan: 90

Luke Joeckel – 6’6/306 – Texas A&M: 88

Lane Johnson – 6’6/303 – Oklahoma: 82

Manelik Watson – 6’5/310 – Florida State: 79

Kyle Long – 6’6/313 – Oregon: 77

DJ Fluker – 6’5/339 – Alabama: 77

Xavier Nixon – 6’6/321 – Florida: 73

Justin Pugh – Syracuse – 6’5/307: 72

David Quessenberry – 6’5/302 – San Jose State: 72

Terron Armstead – 6’5/306 – Arkansas Pine Bluff: 71

Early Round Target (1st-2nd):

Kyle Long – Oregon

Probably the most versatile offensive linemen in this class.  Top tier footwork.  Smart player that maintains his technique in all situations, regardless of his opponent.  Trusts his hands and feet.  Can move laterally and get in to space.  Effective second level blocker.  Has the athletic ability to move with linebackers.  Has a chance to be a top tier pass blocker.  Needs to add more power to his game, especially from his upper body.  Has a couple red flags off the field, but nothing considered too serious.

Long has the bloodlines the NFL values more than you think.  Son of Howie, brother of Chris, Kyle showed the ability to play all over the line in 2011 and 2012.  While he is not a 1st rounder, the value he could bring in round 2 is something the Giants should look at.  Projecting where this offensive line is heading can be very difficult.  There is so much up in the air right now, as some of the veterans are coming off serious injuries and the younger guys are unproven.  Long gives the Giants a high quality, young, healthy body that can adapt to whatever the Giants offensive line may need in 2014. I think he could end up being a quality starting left or right tackle very soon.  But if Beatty can hold down the left side and Brewer/McCants can perform well on the right side, Long will have value inside.  Versatility is key when drafting offensive line this year.

Mid Round Target (3rd-5th):

Xavier Nixon – Florida

Great hands/feet combination.  Can fire out of his stance and reach the edge quickly in pass protection.  Strong and violent hands.  Can handle the strength of power rushers, can handle the explosion of speed rushers.  Well balanced in space.  Looks comfortable and confident in pass protection.  Doesn’t get a big push as a straight-ahead run blocker.  Loses track of his balance when reaching the outside edge.  Gets beaten on double moves too often.

Nixon has a ton of experience against the speed of the SEC, having started 33 games over the course of three years.  I’ve been impressed with him against some of the toughest competition he has faced.  He performed very well against the likes of DaMontre Moore, Jarvis Jones, and Sam Montgomery.  I read over some notes from the fall, and I wrote down on different occasions that Nixon shows the ability in flashes that none of the top guys in this class have shown.  What needs to be investigated here is the off the field work ethic/physical evaluations.  Nixon has had some issues keeping weight/bulk on.  Is that a character flaw?  Physical limitation?  He is weighing in around 320 these days, but is it a legit 320?  If all that checks out, Nixon could be a round 4 or 5 pick that gets on the field early.  He can play multiple positions along the line and he has far better tape than Beatty, Brewer, or McCants ever did in college.

Late Round Target (6th-UDFA):

Luke Marquardt – Azusa Pacific – 6’9/315

Big, long, and flexible.  Has a nice frame that allows him to play with a blend of athleticism and physical presence.  Could add more bulk to his lower half.  Fires out of his stance in a blink, reaches the second level easily with balance.  Dominated his level of competition.  Quick enough to reach the edge is pass protection.  Has the length to make up for initial timing mishaps.  Can bend at the knees well.  Played against a low level of competition.  Technique with his hands and feet are inconsistent and immature.

I’ve only watched two game tapes of Marquardt, but I really like what I see as a developmental prospect.  He has the physical makeup of a starting left tackle when considering his combination of size, ability, and physical presence.  He is a very powerful athlete in space.  He was head and shoulders above the players he was up against in the tapes I saw.  If he adapts to the speed of the NFL and takes in the NFL quality coaching and lifting programs, he can be a big time player.  I don’t say this much about guys that are slated to be a drafted late (if at all), but he is definitely a guy that has the tools that a lot of guys in the middle rounds will never have.

The Plan:

Personally, I think the Giants offensive line could end up being a severe limiting factor for the unit in 2013 and beyond unless pieces are added.  There are a lot of questions, both short term and long term, when it comes to how they are going to control the line of scrimmage.  An offense can only be as efficient as the line will allow.  The tackles are a thin group at the moment unless the development of Brewer and McCants can take a big leap forward this year.  I’ve never bought in to Beatty being the long term option at left tackle, but he will man the spot in 2013 and show what he’s got.  This is a group that should be addressed in the first few rounds.  It would not be a great approach to simply add another developmental guy that needs a couple years of training before he is considered for weekly playing time.  They have enough of those guys.  Because of the instability inside as well, Reese needs to try and find a value in the first half of the draft that gives them multiple options should someone go down, or quality performance isn’t there inside or out.

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