One of the five worst tackles in the NFL over the first five weeks of play has found himself on the bench. ESPN’s Jordan Raanan was the first to report that the “expectation” heading into Sunday’s game was that New York Giants rookie left tackle Andrew Thomas would not start against Washington. Instead, New York would opt for a different rookie in their lineup, as third-round pick Matt Peart would now be manned with the job of protecting Daniel Jones’ blindside.
This “expectation” became reality with 8:54 left in the first quarter of Week 5’s contest when the Giants offense took the field for their first offensive series, while Thomas was nowhere to be found.
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Thomas Benched Not Once, But Twice
While Thomas has undoubtedly had his growing pains thus far this season, it was still quite a shocker to see New York sit him down, especially with journeyman Cam Fleming still manning the other tackle spot.
Yet, as it turns out, Thomas’ benching may have less to do with “performance-related” struggles and may have more to do with other matters yet to be disclosed. As Raanan highlighted in a later tweet, Thomas began to warm up on the sidelines at the conclusion of the first quarter and entered the game on Big Blue’s first possession of the second quarter.
SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano, who called Thomas’ original benching “damning,” tossed around the prospect of his late insertion being a “disciplinary thing,” because anything else would be simply…”weird.”
Well in that case, let’s get weird. Thomas’ reign in New York’s starting lineup did not last long. The rookie was exposed on numerous occasions by Washington edge defenders before the Giants once again called on Peart to overtake Thomas at left tackle in the third quarter.
Thomas has been vastly underwhelming throughout his young NFL career. The 21-year-old owns a putrid 47.4 Pro Football Focus pass-blocking grade this season, the worst mark by any rookie starting tackle in football.
If that wasn’t enough, Thomas has allowed seven more pressures than any other offensive lineman league-wide (28). His four sacks surrendered check-in as the second-most in the NFL.
Is Peart, Not Thomas, New York’s Left Tackle of the Future?
Senior Bowl executive director and current day ESPN Draft analyst Jim Nagy tossed the idea out way back in May.
“I would think they’d probably play Andrew Thomas at left,” Nagy told North Jersey Media’s Zack Rosenblatt following the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft. “But if you were starting from scratch and where they got drafted from wasn’t an issue, you’d probably put Peart and left and Thomas on the right.”
Nagy’s main reasoning behind his thinking boiled down to approach. While Thomas entered “draft season” as the shoo-in first tackle off the board, he fell down many teams’ personal boards due to limited athletic ability and testing numbers. Peart on the other hand, a former basketball player, is an extremely fluid athlete on the edge.
“Usually you can’t get a guy with starting left tackle ability in the third round, and he’s got that type of upside,” Nagy said of Peart. “His feet, his length, he’s done some really good stuff in pass pro. He’s a better athlete than Andrew Thomas.”
“He’s not as good of a football player right now but he’s a better athlete. That’s clear. That’s inarguable.”
It’s worth noting that Thomas was primed to spend his rookie campaign on the right side before being tossed into the fire at left tackle following Nate Solder’s opt-out decision.
Yet, left tackle, right tackle, it doesn’t really matter. The Giants drafted both Thomas and Peart to be their bookend tackles for years to come. Don’t expect a few early-season struggles to alter the franchise’s long-term plans.