The New York Giants improved their roster — or at least have attempted to — by leaps and bounds this offseason. The team splurged both in free agency and in the draft to bolster their skill positions on both the offensive and defensive sides of the football. Yet, one area that continues to seemingly leave more to be desired is the offensive line. More specifically, the interior offensive line.
On Friday, the team did their best to address the perceived area of need, and had it not been for the Cincinnati Bengals, would have successfully done so. Per ESPN’s Field Yates, the Giants put in a claim on center Lamont Gaillard, who was recently waived by the Arizona Cardinals. Unfortunately for Big Blue, Cincinnati owned a higher waiver priority.
Based on the NFL’s waiver wire system, the priority order reflects the most recent year’s draft order (prior to any trades). The Los Angeles Rams, who finished the 2020 regular season with a 10-6 record, also placed an unsuccessful claim on Gaillard.
It’s worth noting that earlier in the week, the Giants placed center Jonotthan Harrison on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list with a hamstring injury. The free-agent signee has started 42 games over his career, second to only Nate Solder amongst the entire offensive line unit. With Harrison on the mend, the team is left with undrafted free agent Brett Heggie as the lone healthy center behind starter Nick Gates.
Gaillard, 6-foot-3-inches and 305-pounds, was a sixth-round pick for the Cardinals back in 2019. Over his first two NFL seasons, the University of Georgia product has appeared in 13 games with two starts.
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Don’t Rule Out Giants Adding Gaillard Down the Road
While the Giants may have missed out on Gaillard this time around, don’t be surprised if the team makes another run at him should he once again become available. For reference, back in August of last season, New York placed a claim on ex-Miami Dolphin Ryan Lewis but was beaten out by divisional rivals, the Washington Football Team, for the cornerback’s services.
Fast forward a month in advance to when Lewis failed to crack the 53-man roster in Washington. The Pittsburgh product was unceremoniously waived, essentially falling into the Giants’ laps. The team added Lewis to their practice squad ahead of the regular season. By Week 2 he was promoted to the active roster, by Week 4 he was thrust into the starting lineup and by Week 5 he was logging 100% of the team’s defensive snaps.
Guard Named Giants ‘Biggest Hole’
After a rocky start to his 2020 campaign, the aforementioned Nick Gates settled in quite nicely for his first season ever playing center. So much so, that a case could be made that he’s the least of New York’s concerns across their starting five upfront. That same type of optimism cannot be said for the two players who are expected to flag him on his left and right side.
Here’s Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report’s take on the guard situation in East Rutherford, or as he would describe it, Big Blue’s “biggest hole”:
The New York Giants may have just enough upside and experience at offensive tackle with early 2020 draft picks Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart teaming up with veteran Nate Solder. And they may even have themselves a center in Nick Gates, who flashed as an every-game starter in 2020.
But the guard position continues to be a concern.
The top three candidates for those two starting jobs are Shane Lemieux (who struggled mightily as a rookie fifth-round pick in 2020), Will Hernandez (who has generally disappointed as a 2018 second-round pick) and vet Zach Fulton (who was a high-priced bust in three years with the Texans).
The odds are against even two of those three players emerging, and there isn’t a lot else there. Might they be able to convince David DeCastro to come aboard in a make-or-break year for quarterback Daniel Jones?
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