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Giants GM Dave Gettleman didn't think offensive line was position of need

Giants general manager Dave Gettleman speaks to the

Giants general manager Dave Gettleman speaks to the media during a press conference on Dec. 31, 2019. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Dave Gettleman said he did not address offensive line, one of the Giants’ perceived positions of need, in free agency or the draft for one simple reason: He does not think it is one.

"It’s really apparent that we have a little more confidence in our offensive line players than you guys do," the general manager said on Saturday to a question about the lack of picks and a relatively quiet free agency period regarding that all-important spot. "We’re happy with the group we have."

That’s not to say the Giants’ didn’t overhaul some aspects of the line this offseason. They completely restructured their coaching staff with a tilt toward that aspect of the offense. They hired Rob Sale as the offensive line coach, changed Freddie Kitchens’ job responsibilities from tight ends coach to senior offensive assistant with a "primary responsibility" of working with the line, and brought in long-time o-line coach Pat Flaherty as an offensive consultant.

It’s clear the organization believes any struggles last year stemmed not from personnel but from the way the players were taught.

"Right now we’re committed to working with the guys on our roster and improving each one of those guys individually," Joe Judge said. "That should help the unit collectively."

The projected starting group right now includes Andrew Thomas, Shane Lemieux, Will Hernandez, Nick Gates and either Matt Peart or Nate Solder. They waived one of their most reliable starters on the unit, Kevin Zeitler, earlier this year, and did not sign any boffo reinforcements in free agency.

Still, it’s a bit surprising that Gettleman did not draft any offensive linemen (they did sign Florida’s Brett Heggie, a guard and center, as an undrafted free agent shortly after the seventh round ended). It’s only the second time in his nine drafts as a general manager that he has ignored the position (he did so in 2016 with the Panthers as well).

"Right now, our offensive line is what it is, the players are who they are," Gettleman said, "and we’re going to move forward."

NOTES & QUOTES: Because the Giants traded their fifth-round pick to the Dolphins to move up in the third they faced a span of 80 picks without making a selection between their fourth- and sixth-rounder. "I knew it was going to be a while and I would have time to do a number of things: My taxes, etc.," Gettleman said. "It’s a long wait" … Sixth-round pick Gary Brightwell certainly endeared himself to former special teams coordinator Joe Judge when he gushed about opportunities to play on those units. "Special teams starts the game and also finishes it," he said. "Special teams has all the hidden yards. I mean, you need special teams to dominate" … Being selected with the 201st overall pick did little to dimmish the confidence of new Giants cornerback Rodarius Williams. "I believe that I’ll go down as one of the great ones," he said … With the three extra picks in 2022 the Giants received in the trades they made these past few days, director of college scouting Chris Pettit said he’ll have plenty of work to do on next year’s draft starting almost immediately. "It makes it fun knowing we have all these opportunities to take players next year," he said. "We have the picks to really hit It out of the park again next year hopefully."

New York Sports