Giants Starter Drafted by Dave Gettleman Named ‘Best in the NFL’

Dave Gettleman

Getty Dave Gettleman got one draft pick right for the New York Giants.

Dave Gettleman’s name might still inspire rolling of eyes and gnashing of teeth among most fans of the New York Giants, but his tenure as general manager yielded a player one noted line guru thinks is the “best in the NFL right now.”

Those lofty words are endorsed by a former pro who started for three teams and thinks this Giants starter is “playing at an elite level.”

Contentious Draft Choice Paying off for Giants

Gettleman left himself open to criticism when he selected left tackle Andrew Thomas fourth overall in the 2020 draft. Thomas was the first tackle taken in a draft rich with O-line talent.

Many felt Jedrick Wills, Mekhi Becton or Tristan Wirfs could have gone ahead of Thomas. Time has shown the Giants knew what they were doing because Thomas is now regularly being named among the elite at his position.

The third-year pro knows no equal among offensive linemen, according to no less an authority than Paul Alexander:

Alexander’s experience includes stints as line coach for the New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys. Multi-time Pro-Bowlers Andrew Whitworth, Tyron Smith and Zack Martin were among those developed by Alexander, who was talked about with the same esteem as “legendary line coaches like Howard Mudd and Alex Gibbs” by Sports Illustrated.

Thomas isn’t just earning fans among ex-line coaches. He’s also impressing those who used to block on Sundays at this level.

Among them, NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger, who started for the Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles during an 11-year playing career, broke down some of Thomas’ best performances this season:

Baldinger finished his appraisal by saying the “Giants got themselves a great, young player.” It’s hard to argue, especially since Thomas is one of three players who have made the team’s 2020 draft class a success.

Thomas is also the lone standout talent on an otherwise floundering offensive line.

Giants’ Elite Talent Needs More Help

Gettleman’s recruitment policy frustrated many, but it’s easy to give him a passing grade for the 2020 draft. Not only is Thomas an elite starter, but second-rounder safety Xavier McKinney has also become a star.

The Giants are also still enjoying the benefits of finding value in the later rounds. Tae Crowder was the last player taken two years ago, but he’s gone from a seventh-rounder to a starter. Even Crowder’s fellow late-round linebackers Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin have been active on special teams.

Add this group to the trade for Leonard Williams and other draft successes like Saquon Barkley and Dexter Lawrence III, and Gettleman’s tenure wasn’t all bad. More importantly, his successes, regardless of their number, gave new GM Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll a strong foundation to build upon.

Thomas is one of the reasons the Giants have surprised the league by racing to a 6-2 start. His dominant performances are not only earning Thomas plaudits from the analytics community:

They are also the best thing about an O-line in a state of disrepair. Two-time Super Bowl-winning former Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes blasted the group for allowing quarterback Daniel Jones to be sacked 25 times through eight games.

Tynes is right to be concerned because the Giants have issues at every other spot bar left tackle. Free-agent arrivals like center Jon Feliciano and right guard Mark Glowinski have failed to make the grade, while tackle Evan Neal, one of the Giants’ two first-round picks in this year’s draft, also struggled initially.

Fortunately, Neal was beginning to live up to his status as 2022’s seventh-overall pick before injuring his knee against the Jacksonville Jaguars, per NFL Rookie Watch:

Any improvement is great news for Schoen and Daboll, who moved Neal from left to right tackle because Thomas is thriving. If Neal makes the switch work for the long term, the Giants will have bookend tackles to anchor a powerful front that will be a platform for success beyond this season.

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