The New York Giants have plugged a number of holes during free agency, including inside linebacker and wide receiver. It means general manager Joe Schoen has the luxury of sticking to taking the best players available in the 2023 NFL draft.
One of those players could also answer an outstanding need, for the mere cost of a third-round pick. Michigan center Olusegun Oluwatimi makes sense for the Giants with the 89th-overall pick, according to ESPN’s Jordan Reid: “The center spot has been a revolving door for the Giants since the glory days of Weston Richburg. Six-foot-2, 309-pound Oluwatimi has the strength and experience to step in and be a Day 1 starter.”
Reid’s belief Oluwatimi would be an instant starter as a rookie is borne out by his performances for the Wolverines. Oluwatimi won the Outland Trophy as the best interior lineman in college football for 2022, per PFF College:
The 23-year-old also scooped another prize, the Rimington Trophy, awarded to the outstanding center at the collegiate level.
Center is a position where the Giants need reinforcements, but finding a starter-ready pivotman in Round 3 would be an ideal scenario for Schoen. It would mean he could use his first two picks at wide receiver or cornerback.
Giants Have Void to Fill at Heart of Offensive Line
Free agency was unkind to the Giants when it came to retaining valuable interior O-linemen. First, Nick Gates joined NFC East rivals the Washington Commanders, then Jon Feliciano signed a one-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers.
Those moves leave the Giants needing reinforcements at a vital position after Feliciano started 15 games last season, while Gates made 17 starts at center before suffering a serious leg injury in 2021.
There are in-house options to fill the void, including 2020 fourth-round pick Ben Bredeson, along with fellow three-year pro Shane Lemieux. The problem is they would have to convert from guard, with neither boasting the track record at center to match Oluwatimi.
He would give them a player with plenty of experience lining up over the ball. Oluwatimi started 49 games at center for Michigan, according to NFL.com’s Chad Reuter.
His performances were award-worthy, particularly when blocking for the run. Oluwatimi posted an 82.5 run block grade last season, the “second highest among Big Ten centers,” per PFF College.
One of his best run blocks was highlighted by Burgundy Zone podcast host The Podfather:
Oluwatimi also showed how well he can anchor in one-on-one matchups during some impressive showings at the Senior Bowl back in February. One such rep caught the eye of Pittsburgh Sports Now’s Nick Farabaugh:
Oluwatimi has the physical tools and intangibles the Giants need at center. If he lasts until the third round, Schoen can get a steal after having already addressed more headline positions.
Giants Can Wait on Center Help
The Giants need to address center, but it doesn’t have to happen in the first two rounds. Those picks ought to be used to recruit receiver help and a fresh face at cornerback.
Of the two, wideout is beginning to look like the priority. At least based on ESPN’s Jordan Raanan reporting the Giants have met with several receivers from this class, including Ohio State’s catch-machine Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Boston College playmaker Zay Flowers and TCU burner Quentin Johnston:
Big Blue’s offense still needs a legitimate go-to target on the outside, despite Schoen signing Parris Campbell from the Indianapolis Colts and bringing back Darius Slayton, Isaiah Hodgins and Sterling Shepard.
Cornerback also needs an infusion of star power, with Reid sending Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes to a Giants’ defense that snatched “just six interceptions last season, tied for the worst total in the league.”
Receiver and corner are loaded position groups in this year’s draft class, so the Giants shouldn’t be able to miss at either spot with early picks. Their total haul will look a lot better if Schoen can also land a starter for the trenches in the third.