The future trajectory of the New York Giants won’t be solely reliant on the franchise’s record three first-round picks in the NFL Draft.
One former NFL general manager believes it could well be a couple of under-the-radar moves that make the difference for the Giants.
It is no secret that as a unit, the offensive line struggled for the Giants. For the past four seasons, the line has been one of the poorest in the entire NFL and was ignored up until the last offseason. General manager Dave Gettleman said last year that improving the line and adding some “hog mollies” were a priority of the offseason. The signing of left tackle Nate Solder and the drafting of guard Will Hernandez in the second round underscored Gettleman’s priorities in getting the line better.
But more needed to be done as the offensive line was average at best last year.
The big move this offseason to address the line, although overshadowed a bit by some of the team’s other transactions, was a trade that netted the Giants guard Kevin Zeitler. This combined with the Giants targeting several offensive linemen as undrafted rookie free agents have former New York Jets general manager and Miami Dolphins executive Mike Tannenbaum thinking that this team has improved in the trenches.
“What I liked in particular about their draft, they took a couple of offensive linemen in the back end of the draft,” Tannenbaum told MSGNetworks.com.
“I thought for Dave, it’s always about winning up front. Going back to the Zeilter trade, go back to back to Solder … obviously, it didn’t work out with Patrick Omameh. I think when you see what he has done with Hernandez, Solder, Zeitler. Obviously, he’s trying to address the line on both sides of the ball.”
Solder had some ups and downs last year with the Giants, his first season in New York after signing a four-year, $62 million deal last offseason. But he helped solidify the left side of the line, which is no small thing given the near turmoil state of the unit the past few years.
A former first-round selection, Zeitler has 104 appearances with 103 starts in his career. He is a rock steady interior offensive lineman with a very good reputation.
Tannenbaum, now an analyst with ESPN, has quite the track record of drafting offensive linemen. In 2006, his first year as general manager of the Jets, he selected perennial Pro Bowl talents such as left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold. In 2009, he drafted guard Matt Slauson who became a starter for the Jets and the Chicago Bears. The next year, Tannenbaum took Vlad Ducasse in the second round, a guard who has 110 NFL appearances and 51 starts.
So when Tannenbaum praises the trade for Zeitler, he speaks with a certain level of authority.
“No question about it,” Tannenbaum said. “I think Zeitler is an elite guard.”