Ask four different scouts and analysts who the top offensive lineman in this week's NFL Draft is, and you might get four different answers. Ask even more of them to rank those four in order, and you will get as many permutations as is mathematically possible. That’s some of what makes the lead-up to the draft so intriguing and so much fun.
But come Thursday night, it won’t really matter much what anyone else in the world thinks of the offensive linemen when they are all available. At some point, one team will be the first to select the position and therefore declare its preference.
Chances are it could be the Giants.
While they have plenty of options available to them with the No. 4 pick, including the selection of defensive game-changers and the chance to trade down, many believe that general manager Dave Gettleman will use that choice to land a player who will protect Daniel Jones and open holes for Saquon Barkley for the foreseeable future.
Gettleman has gone out of his way not to dispute that.
“Is [offensive line] a pressure point?” he said last week. “To a degree. I’m not going to deny that.”
Enough to use the fourth overall pick on the position? We’ll soon find out.
There are, at the very least, a plethora of choices. Gettleman noted that this draft class is “thick” at offensive line and that potential starters can be found in just about every round.
NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said he has three of them ranked very high, then “a little bit of a gap” between them and Thomas. He said Becton is his top-ranked tackle (“God didn't make many like this. I mean, he is the definition of a freak”), but when asked whom the Giants will pick at four, he leaned toward Wills and Wirfs.
“Wills on Day One, the first day of practice, is going to be ahead of Becton,” Jeremiah said. “But I think Becton, the upside is what puts him over the top for me. So he's my top guy.”
He said Wills is “a natural knee-bender” and “somebody in the run game who can uproot players.”
Wirfs, who many project will be better suited to guard, has experience at left and right tackle in college. Jeremiah said he thought Wirfs would be a guard, too, until his impressive performance at the NFL Scouting Combine showed that he had tackle skills.
As for Thomas, Jeremiah said: “I did not see that elite level of foot quickness, and I thought when he sees some of the better speed rushers in the NFL, that could give him a little bit of trouble.”
While there are shades of potential and refinement, any of the four likely would be a starter for the Giants whenever they take the field in 2020. There are plenty of options in the second round and deeper as well, including more interior linemen, who could fit the Giants’ needs.
“Joe [Judge] and I are of the same mentality that really and truly, the offensive line sets the tone for the team,” Gettleman said. “It really does. I think of all the teams that I’ve been with that have gone to Super Bowls, the offensive lines were the tone-setters. You think of the offensive lines in 2007 and 2011 when we beat the Patriots, those groups set the tone.
“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure we replicate that.”
As for which lineman prospect would best fit the Giants’ need, that’s something only they can decide.