New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman must make it a priority to improve his new team’s dreadful offensive line this offseason.
With free agency officially beginning on Wednesday, he already had a top target in guard Andrew Norwell, was signed as an undrafted free agent by Gettleman in 2014.
Last week, it was reported that Norwell to the Giants was a “done deal,” per Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com. Though a signing could not officially be made until Mar. 14.
But with the countdown on, ESPN’s Jordan Raanan indicated on Monday that Norwell was the team’s “focus” and that the Giants were “optimistic” that they would be able to sign him.
The 26-year-old would have provided a sizeable boost to the Giants line as he’s coming off 2017 First-Team All-Pro honors. He also received a grade of 88.8 by Pro Football Focus, putting him in the “high quality” designation among his NFL peers.
It looks as though the Giants are going to lose out on Norwell though as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Norwell “intends” to sign a five-year, $66.5 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, making him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the league.
With Norwell seemingly out of the picture, it could mean that Gettleman and the Giants address their offensive lineman needs in this year’s draft.
Holding the No. 2 pick, the team was very high on Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, but the Cleveland Browns’ trade for quarterback Tyrod Taylor gives them the opportunity to nab rusher with the No. 1 pick.
New York could go with a quarterback in the form of Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield or Josh Rosen, but with Eli Manning slated to be the starter in 2018 and Davis Webb still possibly being considered the heir apparent, the Giants might not feel the need to take a passer.
That would leave them the chance to draft the best offensive lineman available in Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson, who is a top-five talent in this year’s draft class.
The guard stands at 6-foot-5 and 329 pounds and is capable of using every ounce of his massive frame. He can move mountains with his strength as shown at the NFL Combine when he put up 35 reps on the 225-pound bench press. But he also has quick feet and impressive balance, which makes him as close to a complete package as one can find in a young offensive lineman.
It is all but a lock that Nelson will be available at No. 2. So it might just come down to Gettleman’s results in free agency or if any tempting trade offers for that No. 2 pick comes his way.