The New York Giants used some of its valuable draft capital during last week’s selection process to bolster an offensive line that has often been its weakest link over the past few years.
Three of their picks went to linemen — headlined by the choosing of Georgia tackle Andrew Thomas with the fourth-overall selection.
After UConn tackle Matt Peart was taken in the third round, the Giants used a fifth-rounder on Oregon guard Shane Lemieux, who started all 52 games at left guard over four years with the Ducks.
But that doesn’t mean he isn’t bringing versatility to the Giants’ trenches.
Lemieux told reporters that he has been doing work at all three interior positions, which will only make his chances of finding the field at the NFL level that much better.
“I was really fortunate enough in college, I had a really good offensive line. We never really had to move much because we were experienced veterans,” Lemieux said. “During this draft process, I understood that this game is all about versatility. I think that me getting good at all three interior positions is going to benefit me well in the future. I don’t really have a position. I just want to be ready whenever I get in, to be ready to play whatever coach asks me to.”
The Giants’ left and right-guard positions seem to be in decent shape with Will Hernandez at the left and Kevin Zeitler on the right, but question marks surrounding the center role opens the door for Lemieux.
Veteran Spencer Pulley has started 26 NFL games at center and nine with the Giants, but hid body of work suggests he’s more of a depth option than a legitimate starter.
Behind him is undrafted tackle Nick Gates, who started three games for the Giants last season, which once again doesn’t inspire much confidence.
Jon Halapio is still on the market for the taking, but the unsigned lineman will be coming back from a torn Achilles.
Enter Lemieux, who has made it a point to put in work at the center spot.
“Especially as a rookie, there’s not really a guard that only plays guard. Versatility is the biggest factor in this game,” he said. “Coaches want to be able to put you in multiple spots. I have really good mentors that told me that at training camp, no matter where you are, they are going to throw you in, and you have to be ready. I just want to be prepared before that happened. Even at pro day, somebody asked me to jump in at center and I was ready to do that. It just all works out and versatility is key.”
Lemieux has a chance to add another fresh face to the Giants’ starting offensive line.
Thomas’ lengthy experience anchoring Georgia’s offensive line makes him a prime candidate to start at the left tackle spot, usurping veteran Nate Solder, who has struggled since joining the team from the New England Patriots two years ago.
The Giants also signed Cameron Fleming, previously of the Patriots and Dallas Cowboys, to address the right tackle spot, but he’s only started 26 games in six seasons.
“I think it’s really awesome seeing a team value the offensive line the way that they do,” Lemieux said of Gettleman’s moves this offseason. “I’ve heard all about hog mollies and all that kind of stuff. I’m really excited and I can’t wait to get to know these other rookies and I can’t wait to get to know the other teammates on the offensive line. I think we are all ready to get to work.”