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New York Giants O-Line Preview: Better Be Better – Sports Illustrated

You don’t need a skilled eye for football to know that the Giants' offensive line hasn't been good in recent years. Despite attempts to fix the offensive line through the NFL Draft, free agency, and trades, the Giants haven’t been able to get it done.
While the Giants have struggled to field a strong offensive line for the better part of a decade, there is optimism among the fanbase this year. Not only is the 2022 version of the Giants' offensive line young, but there is a solid mix of depth and enough veteran presence to provide some comfort.
Andrew Thomas, the Giants' first-round pick in 2020 who had a difficult rookie year, put it together as a blocker in 2021. Thomas allowed 57 pressures and ten sacks during his rookie season, but in 2021, he allowed just 18 pressures and two sacks.
Thomas, however, is the only returning Giants offensive lineman who started more than one game in 2021. Guard Shane Lemieux is expected to be healthy again after suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 1 last season.
The biggest new addition through free agency on the offensive line is Jon Feliciano, who played guard for Giants head coach Brian Daboll in Buffalo. Feliciano is making the move to center for the Giants.
Mark Glowinski is another new free agency addition to this Giants offensive line. The veteran guard has had his fair share of troubles as a pass-protector in recent years, being more known as a run-blocker that helped lead the way for Jonathan Taylor to shred through defenses last season.
The new addition that Giants fans are excited to see is the seventh overall pick from the 2022 NFL Draft, Evan Neal. Neal was an Alabama offensive lineman that played in multiple spots on the line and dominated at every one of them.
The 2022 Draft and undrafted free agency also saw the addition of Joshua Ezeudu, Marcus McKethan, Josh Rivas, and Roy Mbaeteka. The new front office and coaching staff emphasize getting more bodies in the offensive line room this offseason, and for a good reason: the cupboard was left bare.
Offensive line coach Bobby Johnson followed Daboll from the Bills to the Giants this past offseason after the Giants offensive line coach from 2021, Rob Sale, went back to the college ranks. Sale was a proven offensive line developer, putting 2020 NFL Draft picks Robert Hunt and Kevin Dotson in the NFL and being the coach of 2022 NFL Draft pick Max Mitchell for every year except his final one. Still, he had mixed success with the Giants, getting Thomas back on track but unable to do much else with the rest of the linemen he was entrusted to work with.
Johnson has experience coaching the offensive line and tight end positions, and his 2018 stop with the Colts saw him contribute toward developing an offensive line that was arguably top five in the NFL.
Andrew Thomas (3 Years): After a lackluster debut season, Thomas took significant strides toward greatness in 2021. The best lineman on the team, Thomas, will look to be the blind-side protector for years to come.
Jon Feliciano (8 Years): One of the most important things for an offensive lineman is having a mean streak about them. Few are as mean as Feliciano, whom his position coach affectionately calls "Dirt Bag.". Feliciano’s experience with Daboll and Johnson in Buffalo should help bring the rest of this Giants offensive line up to speed.
Evan Neal (Rookie): The Giants spent their second of two first-round picks in 2022 on Neal to complete their set of bookend tackles. At his ceiling, Neal should be one of the best right tackles in the NFL.
Mark Glowinski (8 Years): Glowinski has had an up and down NFL career so far, constantly battling for starting spots, and that doesn’t look like it will end here. A better run-blocker than pass-protector, it remains to be seen how much value Glowinski will hold to this coaching staff that has shown they want to throw the ball.
Max Garcia (8 Years): Versatility is the name of the game if you’re a backup offensive lineman in the NFL. Luckily for Garcia, he’s got experience playing all over the offensive line and is coming off one of the best seasons of his career in Arizona.
Shane Lemieux (3 Years): Coming out of Oregon, Lemieux had an NFL-ready resume yet went lower than many (myself included) expected him to get drafted. After an up-and-down first two seasons that included a season-ending knee injury suffered early last year, the now healthy Lemieux is looking to bounce back in 2022.
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Nick Gates (5 Years): A fan favorite, Gates is another Giants offensive lineman that missed most of 2021 due to an injury. Gates should be safe in 2022 after being named a team captain who has done nothing but exceed expectations since being signed as a free agent in 2018, but it's unlikely he'll be ready to play and could spend the year on the PUP list.
Matt Peart (3 Years): Peart is another Giants offensive lineman who had his 2021 season cut short due to injury when he tore his ACL in Week 16. The recovery for Peart will decide how his 2022 goes–that is if he can play at all this year.
Joshua Ezeudu (Rookie): An overlooked recruit coming out of high school, Ezeudu is a textbook overachiever. Ezeudu is an athlete that, with proper development, could become a high-lever starter for the Giants at guard.
Jamil Douglas (5 Years): Douglas is about as much of a journeyman as you can find in the NFL and is now on his eighth NFL team. Douglas spent time in 2021 with the Bills, both on the practice squad or active roster.
Korey Cunningham (5 Years): Cunningham is entering his second season as a Giant after signing with the team in September 2021. Pass protection is a genuine concern for Cunningham, who might need to consider a move to guard if he wants to stay in East Rutherford.
Marcus McKethan (Rookie): McKethan is one of three Giants rookies from North Carolina, with Ezeudu and defensive lineman Tomon Fox being the others. Size and power are there for McKethan, but with NFL teams getting progressively more wide-zone oriented, it will be interesting to see if he can last.
Matt Gono (4 Years): Though he’s been in the NFL since 2018, Gono only has 21 games and four starts to his name. Gono missed the 2021 season due to injury after starting on the PUP list.
Ben Bredeson (3 Years): If you had to pick one Giants offensive lineman to be on your side in a bar fight and Felician wasn't available, pick Bredeson. Bredeson is a former All-American lineman who has shown flashes of becoming a starter-quality offensive lineman and plays with a nasty streak.
Devery Hamilton (1 Year): Few football players have Hamilton's academic or athletic resume. Hamilton is a versatile guard who played at Stanford and Duke before making his way to the NFL.
Josh Rivas (Rookie): There are few undrafted free agents as impressive as Rivas. Rivas went all 900 pass-blocking snaps of his college career without allowing a sack and allowed just ten quarterback hits in four years.
Roy Mbaeteka (Rookie): With incredible size (6-foot-9, 320 pounds), the Nigerian native has a ridiculously high ceiling. Mbaeteka was mentored by Giants legend Osi Umenyiora before signing with the Giants but is as raw as they come being new to the position. The Giants have a roster exemption on him, and they'll use the time to develop his skillset.
Best case scenario: Ideally, the Giants have an offensive line that can finally piece things together and protect Daniel Jones and open up consistent rushing lanes for Saquon Barkley. The edges will be well-protected with Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal, but the interior will need to find a duo that could work well together consistently with the talent on the roster.
Worst case scenario: While most Giants fans can look at this offensive line and see a bright future ahead, this is an offensive line that has never played together. With Glowinski and Feliciano hitting 30, they could hit an unexpected wall. Moreover, with Feliciano, Douglas, and Garcia all on one-year deals, it's probably not a stretch to predict that this line will undergo further renovation as the Giants look for their long-term fixtures along the interior.
Sleeper: Of all of the new additions to this Giants roster, guard Josh Rivas is one that many people have no expectations for that could pan out. Mbaeteka signed on with no experience but traits to develop, and everyone is watching, but Rivas, out of Kansas State, is an under-the-radar name to watch for more playing time.
On the bubble: While he’s one of my favorite linemen on the team, Shane Lemieux could find himself in trouble regarding final cutdown time. Lemieux had a disappointing rookie season and missed most of 2021 with a knee injury. He's penciled in as the starter, but I don't feel he's a lock to make the roster because he's one of those draft picks to which the new regime has no attachment.
The Giants have roughly seven players on this offensive line that I would be comfortable seeing as starters in 2022. While that sounds great, considering that injuries often happen on the offensive line, an offensive line is only as strong as its weakest link.
For an offensive line, it’s more important about how the unit works as a whole instead of working as individuals. The Giants will have to focus on finding the unit where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts in training camp. 
Brandon Olsen is the founder of Whole Nine Sports, specializing in NFL Draft coverage, and is the host of the Locked On Gators Podcast.  


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