As we inch closer to the 2020 NFL Draft, the New York Giants have two glaring holes up front on their offensive line. The team added Cam Fleming from the division rival Dallas Cowboys this offseason, and while he’s expected to compete for the starting right tackle spot, he’s served predominantly as a swing tackle throughout his career. At center, last year’s starter, Jon Halapio, is rehabbing from an Achilles injury and is currently unsigned.
While many expect the G-Men to look to this year’s draft class as a way to shore up their offensive line, New York may have other plans, as they are evidently very high on a player internally.
Giants Have ‘Faith’ in Nick Gates
Many draft experts expect the Giants to snag the top offensive tackle of their choice when they are on the clock with the fourth-overall selection at this year’s draft. However, in general manager Dave Gettleman’s latest media session, he pointed to the signing of Cam Fleming, along with the presence of Nate Solder and far less known current Giant, Nick Gates, as reasons why he felt comfortable not addressing the tackle position much in free agency and potentially in the draft.
Gettleman continued his praise for Gates, stating that the team has “faith” in the undrafted offensive lineman out of Nebraska and that they are extremely “excited about him” moving forward.
Gates Could Start at Center
Gates spent the majority of his rookie season in 2018 on the injured reserve. However, in 2019, a healthy Gates stepped into a starting role at the latter part of the season, flexing his versatility and potential at both guard and tackle.
Gates posted a solid 75.1 Pro Football Focus grade in 2019 and excelled working in the interior, garnering an 82.1 PFF grade while operating as a guard according to North Jersey.
Now, it appears the Giants may be keen on keeping Gates on the interior, albeit at yet another position.
“We won’t know about Pio [Jon Halapio] until June with the Achilles,” Gettleman said on Monday. “Spencer [Pulley] obviously has played a ton of football. We have a lot of confidence in him. We’re working that group over pretty good in the draft. We’re always going to continue to upgrade. I’m not afraid to draft over a guy.”
“Just for what it’s worth, we’ve talked about Nick doing that,” Gettleman said in regards to Gates playing center. “He did do some of that last year in practice, so it’s not completely new. Nick is smart. The thing you love about Nick is just how tough he is, because it’s a fist fight in there. There’s no doubt about that. History tells you that the toughness of your team is really, really indicated by the toughness of your offensive line. So, we’re always looking for that kind of piece. Nick would be in consideration at center, absolutely.”
Gates is Ready to Compete, No Matter the Position
It’s clear the Giants value Gates as a player and may have very well stumbled upon a diamond in the rough. The question is, however, where does Gates fit along New York’s offensive line? According to him, “wherever.”
“I’m an offensive lineman,” Gates told NorthJersey.com and USA TODAY Network Northeast after a practice in late December of last year. “I’ll play wherever I fit in, whatever spot opens up, and I’ll make the most of it. I’ve learned so much having to adjust to playing in different positions. I came into the league having played exclusively at left tackle, and then I played a little left guard before getting hurt last summer as a rookie. Learning how to play on the right side was really a muscle memory sort of thing, training your mind and body to follow through on the steps, with technique, just everything.”