With New York Giants training camp beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) breaks down each of the team’s positional groups until the players report at Quest Diagnostics Training Center.



2023 YEAR IN REVIEW: Coming off the 2022 season where the offensive line performed better, but was still well below average, it was anticipated the unit would improve in 2023. The Giants drafted highly-touted center John Michael Schmitz. Evan Neal, Josh Ezeudu, and Marcus McKethan were entering their second season. Instead, a unit that has struggled for over a decade hit rock bottom. Only the 1986 Eagles have allowed more sacks in a season than the 85 surrendered by the Giants in 2023. In comparison, the 49 sacks given up by the Giants in 2022 were 5th worst in the NFL that season.

There were warning signs in the summer. Evan Neal missed two valuable weeks of practice with a concussion. And the coaching staff could not seem to settle on both starting guards as Mark Glowinski, Ben Bredeson, and Josh Ezeudu were still being rotated as the preseason ended. The Giants oddly cut swing tackle Tyree Phillips in August in favor of retaining Matt Peart. Veteran back-ups center J.C. Hassenauer and guard Wyatt Davis were put on season-ending IR in August.

Everything fell apart on the first offensive drive of the season. The Giants drove down field against the Cowboys, and facing a 3rd-and-2 from the 8-yard line, the team’s best offensive player, left tackle Andrew Thomas, was flagged with his only accepted penalty of the year (false start). A bad snap by Schmitz led to a 14-yard loss on the next play. The ensuing field goal attempt was blocked for a touchdown and on this play, Thomas pulled his hamstring chasing down the ball carrier. Thomas remained in the game for a while, making the injury worse, and being flagged for his only other penalty of the year (a holding penalty that was declined). The hamstring injury caused him to miss the next seven games.

Losing the centerpiece of the offensive line was bad enough, but it got worse. Neal (sprained right ankle, broken left ankle), Ezeudu (toe), and Shane Lemieux (torn biceps) all ended up on Injured Reserve. Schmitz (shoulder, shin) missed four games. Glowinski was benched after the opener, started four games in October, and did not start again until the finale in January. Bredeson started four games at left guard, four at center, and eight at right guard. He also missed Week 3 with a concussion.

How crazy did it get? Look at the starting line-ups for the first eight games:

  • Week 1: LT Andrew Thomas, LG Ben Bredeson, OC John Michael Schmitz, RG Mark Glowinski, RT Evan Neal
  • Week 2: LT Josh Ezeudu, LG Ben Bredeson, OC John Michael Schmitz, RG Marcus McKethan, RT Evan Neal
  • Week 3: LT Josh Ezeudu, LG Shane Lemieux, OC John Michael Schmitz, RG Marcus McKethan, RT Evan Neal
  • Week 4: LT Josh Ezeudu, LG Ben Bredeson, OC John Michael Schmitz, RG Marcus McKethan, RT Evan Neal
  • Week 5: LT Josh Ezeudu, LG Mark Glowinski, OC Ben Bredeson, RG Marcus McKethan, RT Evan Neal
  • Week 6: LT Josh Ezeudu, LG Justin Pugh, OC Ben Bredeson, RG Mark Glowinski, RT Evan Neal
  • eek 7: LT Justin Pugh, LG Marcus McKethan, OC Ben Bredeson, RG Mark Glowinski, RT Tyre Phillips
  • Week 8: LT Justin Pugh, LG Ben Bredeson, OC John Michael Schmitz, RG Mark Glowinski, RT Tyre Phillips

After those first eight games, the OL settled down somewhat with Thomas back at left tackle, Pugh at left guard, Schmitz at center, Bredeson at right guard, and Phillips at right tackle. However, the line was still not good. Pugh was literally signed off of the couch and thrust into the starting line-up, which was particularly embarrassing for Glowinski. While Bredeson was extremely versatile, playing all three interior line positions, he did not perform well. Schmitz struggled as a rookie. Indeed, the interior trio was a weak spot all season. At tackle, the Giants embarrassingly re-signed Phillips from Philadelphia as Peart barely played on a struggling and injury-ravaged OL. The Giants force fed Ezeudu at left tackle instead with disastrous results. He was terrible as was Neal at right tackle and McKethan at both guard spots. (Neal and Ezeudu missed the final two months with season-ending injuries).

Bad is not strong enough of a word to describe the offensive line play, particularly in the first half of the season. They could not even function and the Giants’ offense plummeted to the bottom of the NFL. Running plays had no chance and New York’s three quarterbacks were constantly under siege. The Giants gave up six sacks in two games, seven sacks in three games, eight sacks against the Raiders, nine sacks in one game against the Commanders, and 11 sacks to the Seahawks. Eight-five (85!) in all, second most in NFL history. The Giants scored 25 offensive touchdowns in 17 games.

The Giants fired offensive line coach Bobby Johnson after the season, following in the footsteps of Mike Solari (2016-2017), Hal Hunter (2018-2019), Marc Colombo (2020), and Rob Sale (2021).

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: Mark Glowinski was cut in March. Ben Bredeson (Buccaneers), Matt Peart (Broncos), Shane Lemieux (Saints), and Wyatt Davis (Browns) signed elsewhere in free agency. Tyree Phillips tore his quad tendon in Week 17 and remains unsigned, as does Justin Pugh, J.C. Hassenauer, and Sean Harlow (who was re-signed by the Giants in October after being cut in August).

Practice Squad players re-signed include Yodny Cajuste, Joshua Miles, and Jalen Mayfield.

The two high-profile free agents signed were Jon Runyan, Jr. (3-years, $30 million) and Jermaine Eluemunor (2-years, $14 million). Also added were Aaron Stinnie, Austin Schlottmann, Matt Nelson, and Jimmy Morrissey. With only six draft picks, the Giants did not select an offensive lineman in the 2024 NFL Draft. The team did sign rookie free agents Jake Kubas and Marcellus Johnson.

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: All eyes will be on Evan Neal. During the spring practices, Andrew Thomas was the left tackle, Jermaine Eluemunor the left guard, John Michael Schmitz the center, and Jon Runyan, Jr. the right guard. Neal remained out of team drills as he is still recovering from ankle surgery that was oddly delayed until January (apparently, the team failed to recognize that his ankle was actually broken and Neal lost two months of rehab). Publicly, Brian Daboll says he expects everyone on the current 91-man roster to be ready at the start of camp. However, fans are understandably nervous with Neal, who has struggled with both injuries and performance since being drafted seventh overall in 2022. If Neal can’t stay healthy or struggles, the coaching staff will need to determine when to shift Eluemunor, something they clearly would not like to do unless necessary.

The other player who needs to rebound is Schmitz, who played hurt as a rookie and was sandwiched between rotating and underperforming doors at both guard spots. It is hoped and expected that veterans Runyan and Eluemunor will help settle things down at guard. Hopefully they are not Glowinski 2.0.

Directly related to all of this is the impact of new offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo, who did admirable work in Las Vegas for two seasons, but who does not have much experience coaching the OL at the pro level (four years). His assistant, James Ferentz, has never coached at any level.

ON THE BUBBLE: There are currently 16 offensive linemen on the 91-man roster. Nine are likely to make the final 53. Barring injury, Andrew Thomas, Jermaine Eluemunor, John Michael Schmitz, Jon Runyan, and Evan Neal are the only locks. With Josh Ezeudu receiving first-team reps in place of both Thomas and Neal during the spring, he seems to have a leg up on the competition.

FROM THE COACHES: Brian Daboll on the new offensive line coaches: “I think Carm is a teacher, a good coach, a good teammate. He has a good understanding of how we do things. He’s made certain adjustments, too, to try to improve where we’re at… Handles the players well. And I would include James Ferentz too. Even though he hasn’t coached, he’s been a very, very good addition. Just played the game, just retired. Can see it through the players’ eyes. Very good technician. He played a long time at probably not the highest level of talent for him, and he’d probably be the first to admit that. But he did it the right way, being smart, being tough, being a great communicator. He’s been a really good addition as well.”

Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka on Carmen Bricillo: “Carm has done a really good job of, one, being installing and cleaning up some of the detail work they need to do individually as a player. From a schematic standpoint, there is certain language we’ve cleaned you up and talked about just to make it more streamlined. I think Carm is also going to put his flavor on it. That is what makes him special as a coach. Put his own flavor and his own fingerprint on that offensive line. He’s done a really nice job. Happy where they’re at.”

Kafka on Evan Neal: “Absolutely I can count on Evan Neal. He’s going through his rehab process and I know he’s eager to get out there. All those meetings in the O-Line room, he’s asking great questions and really into it and trying to get better. The medical side of it, our staff is going to take care of him and make sure he’s on schedule. Whenever he’s ready to go, he’ll be ready to go.”

Daboll on Evan Neal being ready for training camp: “That’s what we’re hoping for. We can count on him. He’s in here, he’s working his butt off… Evan is on his program in terms of trying to get back as soon as he can. He’s doing everything he can do. Participating in the meetings. So very hopeful really with all our guys when we get back we’ll all be ready to go.”

Daboll on Jon Runyan, Jr.: “He’s played in multiple spots. He’s a pro… He communicates well. I think that’s important between John (Michael Schmitz) and Evan (Neal) to have good communicator. It’s important on the left side with Eluemenor and AT (Andrew Thomas) as well. He’s done a really good job since he’s been here. He’s a true pro.”

Daboll on Josh Ezeudu: “We thought we would give him an opportunity here to play tackle this spring and let him hone in on both sides and continue to work and improve. He’s made good strides.”

Carmen Bricillo on Evan Neal: “Look at some individual techniques and you try to change it… One of the things (former Ohio State head coach ) Jim Tressel always said, ‘Don’t judge a player when they are young and don’t judge a player when they are injured.’… We’re going to concentrate on right tackle and go from there.”

Carmen Bricillo on setting his starting five: “For me, as we get later into training camp, if we’re not really set, you might see me a little worried. Until then, I’m not fretting.”

FINAL THOUGHTS: When does the bleeding stop? One can argue that the inability of the team to “fix” the offensive line directly led to the firings of two general mangers, three head coaches, and five offensive line coaches in the last eight years. The Giants keep changing coaches, signing expensive free agents, and drafting top prospects with no improvement whatsoever. Understandably, fans now expect the worst. It’s gotten so bad that some lament the loss of players who did not perform well when they were here, such as Justin Pugh and Jon Feliciano.

Much of the current angst centers around Evan Neal. There are no sure things in any draft, but Evan Neal was a consensus top-10 pick. For example, Jerry Jones mistakenly revealed that the Cowboys had him ranked as the second-best player in the 2022 NFL Draft (ironically behind Kayvon Thibodeux). Neal played guard, right tackle, and left tackle as a three-year starter at the highest level in the most competitive conference in college football. Giants fans were jumping for joy when they drafted him (and John Michael Schmitz one year later). The fact that he has been this bad makes absolutely no sense. His movement/agility issues did not show up in college in pass protection. He was considered as “safe” a pick as there was in that draft. We do know this. He was not healthy at all in 2023 (concussion, both ankles). But we also know his footwork looked bad as a rookie in 2022.

If Evan Neal can stay healthy and rebound, the offensive line may look like a completely different beast. Same story with John Michael Schmitz. The Giants should be more than OK at left tackle, and solid at both guard spots. So much depends on the two high-profile players who Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll drafted. Like their predecessors, their careers may depend on it.

One of the huge issue for the Giants in recent years has been the lack of depth. Last year, the Giants went with very young and inexperienced back-ups and got burned. Josh Ezeudu and Marcus McKethan were not ready for prime time, Sticking with Shane Lemieux and Matt Peart for another season was a mistake. When Thomas was lost, they threw Ezeudu in at left tackle even though he had not really practiced there all summer. The Giants clearly recognized those mistakes and signed veteran back-ups in Aaron Stinnie, Austin Schlottmann, Matt Nelson, and Jimmy Morrissey. Each has started in the NFL, and probably would have started on this line last year. In short, they bring more competency to the unit if one or more of the starters do get hurt again.

A few back-ups deserve additional scrutiny. Curiously, Ezeudu’s snaps this spring appear to have been mostly at both tackle spots. That may have been the result of Neal and Nelson not practicing, as well as Eluemunor starting at left guard, However, if this continues into training camp, that may raise eyebrows. This may also be Marcus McKethan’s last chance. Reserve center Austin Schlottmann has started 14 games and was given a 2-year deal, but under-the-radar signing Jimmy Morrissey was working with the second unit at the June mini-camp. Finally, while the Giants did not draft any offensive linemen, they did give significant guaranteed money to rookie free agents Jake Kubas and Marcellus Johnson after the draft. Kubas was also receiving second-team snaps during the June mini-camp.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Andrew Thomas, Jermaine Eluemunor, John Michael Schmitz, Jon Runyan, Jr., Evan Neal, Josh Ezeudu, Matt Nelson, Aaron Stinnie, Austin Schlottmann