One month ago the New York Giants surprised many people in the football world by taking Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick. Many people had other tackles at the top of their board, but this pick showed how much the Giants were truly in love with Thomas, as it was the first time Dave Gettleman has used a first round pick to select a lineman, and only the second time he has selected a lineman with a top 50 pick, the first being Will Hernandez who has turned into a solid starter at guard for the GMen. I was in the minority of people who liked the pick for the Giants, and after going back and watching Thomas play against Kentucky in 2018, where he was matched up with future All-American and top 10 pick Josh Allen who became a Pro Bowler as a rookie, I only loved Thomas more.
Here we see Thomas in pass protection as Georgia attempts a two minute drill at the end of the first half. The edge defender tries to use his quickness to get by Thomas, but his footwork is too good, and the defender becomes a non factor once Thomas gets his hands on him. That is truly the key to Thomas’s game at tackle, as his strength is his biggest benefit, and if he hits you first you are all but done for.
As we see here, Thomas has consistently incredible footwork, keeping his feet parallel to Allen on the draw, before he gets his hands on him and uses his strength to take one of the best defensive players in college football entirely out of the play as he throws him yards behind the line.
At 6’5″, 315 pounds Thomas was a force to be reckoned with in UGA’s zone blocking run scheme. In this play Thomas is one of the few Bulldogs with a strong block, taking his undersized defender to the next level and opening what would be a running lane had the rest of the line not collapsed around him.
While the NFL uses the zone scheme much less often than college teams, Thomas is also a strong blocker in the traditional running game as seen in this play where Thomas and the tight end open a big hole for Elijah Holyfield before a UGA receiver accidentally fills the hole himself.
When you invest in a quarterback with a high draft pick as the Giants did with Daniel Jones, protecting him has to be priority number one, which the Giants failed at miserably, specifically at tackle. Nate Solder allowed the most pressures of any lineman in the NFL in 2019 with 57 (a whopping 7 more than the next closest player), and when combined with Mike Remmers the Giants OTs combined to allow 97 pressures from the position, the highest of any tackle duo in the league.
This play shows what the Giants will be upgrading to with Thomas, as the OLB shows blitz. Where the aging tackles would likely get blown by on the outside, Thomas uses his feet once again, with impressive lateral quickness to prevent the outside rush, allowing Jake Fromm to be completely protected on his blind side with plenty of time to throw.
This was really the only mistake I saw Thomas make against Kentucky, and exploits one of his few weaknesses. On this play Allen gets his hands on Thomas first, and uses his momentum to throw him aside and recover the fumble off of the bad snap, an all around disastrous play early in the game for the Bulldogs. If Thomas gets beat in the hand game it can cause problems for him as his weight allows him to be thrown when a defender has control, but with time and practice in an NFL camp this problem can be fixed, and Thomas can be taught to sit back and let the defender come to him.
While I am not the biggest Dave Gettleman fan in the world, I believe he does get a bad rap when it comes to the draft, as most of his mistakes come when making trades. Gettleman has made some strong picks in his career, such as Saquon, Jones, Will Hernandez, BJ Hill, Lorenzo Carter, and Darius Slayton who have all become solid starters for the Giants early in their careers, and players like Christian McCaffery, Kawann Short, and Trai Turner who have reached the Pro Bowl numerous times after being drafted by Gettleman with the Panthers.
With Andrew Thomas ready to make an immediate impact, and 3rd round pick Matt Peart being groomed to his counterpart on the right side in the next few years, the Giants have beefed up their offensive line with young talent since Gettleman took the reigns, and Giants fans should be optimistic about the protection for Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley for the first time in a long time.