For the better part of the last decade, the New York Giants have endured sub par play from their offensive line, effectively wasting the latter part of Eli Manning’s professional career.
However, after taking over for the ousted Jerry Reese, general manager Dave Gettleman put an emphasis on finding and adding hog mollies in an attempt to reverse course and return the Giants’ line to its former glory.
It’s too early to say “mission accomplished,” but there’s no denying the team has taken a step in the right direction, especially when considering the additions of guards Will Hernandez, the team’s second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and Kevin Zeitler, who was acquired as part of a mega-trade that sent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns.
Although the two have yet to play a single snap together, Pro Football Focus already views them as one of the top five guard tandems in the NFL.
5. KEVIN ZEITLER & WILL HERNANDEZ, NEW YORK GIANTS
It didn’t come cheap — far from it, in fact — but by acquiring former Cleveland Browns guard Kevin Zeitler, the Giants acquired the best pass-protecting guard in the NFL from a season ago. Zeitler allowed just three sacks, one hit and seven hurries from 642 pass-blocking snaps in 2018, and his 91.7 pass-blocking grade not only led the league’s guards last season, but it was also tied for the ninth-best single-season grade ever recorded by an offensive guard.
Hernandez showed exceptionally well throughout his rookie season, especially in pass protection. He ended eight of his 16 games with a pass-blocking grade over 70.0, and he allowed just 29 pressures from 664 pass-blocking snaps on the year. More impressively, however, is the fact that he committed all of two penalties on 1,027 offensive snaps last year — an impressive feat for a first-year player at the position.
Along with Nate Solder and Mike Remmers on the outside, and budding superstar Jon Halapio anchoring the line at center, the Giants have made tremendous strides in fixing a long-standing problem.
So long as Hernandez and Zeitler can remain healthy in 2019, it will pay huge dividends for running back Saquon Barkley and, perhaps more importantly, quarterback Eli Manning.