It's about time.
Maybe Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons would've been the more exciting pick for the Giants, and maybe in the end he'll turn out to be the better player. But more than two years after vowing to fix the Giants' offensive line, and endless talk about "Hog Mollies" Giants GM Dave Gettleman didn't really have a choice when he made the fourth pick of the NFL Draft on Thursday night.
He had to take an offensive tackle. He knew his line had been too big of a mess for far too long.
"We've spent a lot of time on this," Gettleman said, "and we want to fix this offensive line once and for all."
The rebuilding should've happened two years ago, starting shortly after Gettleman arrived, but it never really got off the ground. Nate Solder, his big free-agent acquisition in his first months as GM, has been mostly a bust. And in two drafts, Gettleman used only two picks on offensive linemen - including one in the seventh round.
Yes, he drafted guard Will Hernandez in the second round two years ago and got guard Kevin Zeitler in the Odell Beckham/Olivier Vernon trade. Those are two very important pieces and have proven to be good players.
But those are only two players. And for the most part, over the last two years, the line has played like it's only two-fifths complete.
That's why the addition of Andrew Thomas, the 6-5, 315-pounder out of Georgia was so important. If the Giants are right about him, he'll be the anchor of their line for many, many years. He'll probably start as the right tackle this season, sliding over to left next year when Solder is likely to be gone. And if he's good as many scouts think he is, he's going to make the entire Giants' line better.
And quarterback Daniel Jones may not have to worry about his blindside ever again.
"I've always chuckle when people say, 'You draft a quarterback, you get him weapons,'" Gettleman said. "No. When you draft a quarterback you get people in front of him that can keep him upright.
"This was an important piece for us."
Never mind that he wasn't the tackle that everyone was expecting, with most of the pre-draft speculation centered around Alabama's Jedrick Wills and Iowa's Tristan Wirfs. NFL scouts and executives were pretty clear that the Big Four were largely interchangeable, with everyone having them ranked in a different order. And Thomas, a three-year starter at Georgia, was generally considered the best available tackle at the end of the college football season.
While others dropped him in their rankings, the Giants obviously never did.
But again, the player didn't matter as much as the position. As Gettleman said, "This was an important piece of for us in Daniel's development. And Saquon's, as well." They were in danger of stunting Jones' growth if he continued to get pummeled behind a bad line. And they were in danger of wasting the early years of Barkley's career if they couldn't find blockers to clear holes so he could use his incredible talent.
Thomas isn't the finishing piece, but he might be the most important piece for the rebuilding project. No, he's not the flashiest player in the draft, nor is he likely the best. But the Giants knew that nothing is more important for them right now than fixing their offensive line. And taking the best tackle on their board will help them more than almost any other player could.