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NFL Draft

Is Too Soon To Call Andrew Thomas A Bust, Right?

  • The Draft Network
  • August 30, 2021
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It didn’t take long for New York Giants fans to voice their disappointment with rookie offensive tackle Andrew Thomas last season. Thomas started his rookie campaign poorly by surrendering several pressures and sacks during his first few starts. It’s worth noting that Thomas’ play improved by the end of the season, leaving fans with a beacon of hope that their team didn’t “miss” on a top-five pick.

Thomas’ struggles, unfortunately, reared their ugly head once again throughout this year’s preseason, and they were especially prominent in New York’s final exhibition game against the New England Patriots. We got an up-close-and-personal look at Thomas during that contest because the Giants decided to play their starters for an extended period of time. The results weren’t good. Thomas was credited with giving up 1.5 sacks, several QB hits, and was called for a holding penalty on just 36 snaps.

Thomas was quick to acknowledge his struggles after the game.

“There are some things I have to improve on; my hand placement, staying wide on my set, and keeping depth with the pocket,” Thomas told NJ.com after the game. “Sometimes I do it the right way, sometimes it’s not to my liking. I’m trying to be as consistent as possible.”

Thomas’ struggles last season paired with the fact that he failed to show improvement this August is leading to one very obvious question. Is it too early to call Thomas a bust? The struggles concern me, but I’m here to tell you yes, it’s far too early to label Thomas a “bust.” 

Thomas’ college tape was a rollercoaster. Thomas is long and strong, and things generally went well for him in pass protection on vertical sets. When he lost the first-step battle at Georgia, he didn’t always show the required foot speed to recover. It’s a similar issue that plagued him as a rookie as well.

We live in the age of instant gratification, but it’s important to note that Thomas is a 22-year-old athlete playing one of the most difficult positions in all of sports. The transition from college to the pros as an offensive tackle is NOT an easy one, and Thomas has all the traits necessary to improve his play. He’s an excellent athlete, has the pedigree of a top pick, and says all the right things. You can question his level of play thus far, but you can’t question his commitment to getting better. The effort has been there.

What hurts Thomas most in these discussions is how well his counterparts have fared. Thomas was the first tackle off the board when the Giants picked him with the No. 4 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. It was a mini-surprise. Most mock drafts and analysts preferred Tristan Wirfs and Jedrick Wills to Thomas. Even Mekhi Becton was receiving more pre-draft love than Thomas was.

Now consider the fact that all three of those players had better-to-incredible rookie campaigns compared to Thomas, and it really hurts and looks bad for Thomas and general manager Dave Gettleman. But patience is a virtue, and the Giants would be wise to continue to support and coach Thomas through his struggles. Really, what other choice do they have? There’s no point in comparing Thomas to Wills, Wirfs, or Becton now. The time for that has come and gone, and what’s done is done. Leave the bickering and “what ifs” to the fans, and trust me, they’ll be more than willing to partake in those exercises.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t a sense of urgency here. To say the Giants need Thomas to sort through his struggles ASAP would be an understatement. It’s a make-or-break year for third-year quarterback Daniel Jones, and Gettleman has made an effort to surround him with weapons. Saquon Barkley is healthy and ready to play a prominent role. The likes of Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, first-round pick Kadarius Toney, and big free-agent signing Kenny Golladay help round a stellar supporting cast on offense. But it could all be held back if the offensive line doesn’t take a step forward this season. 

Thomas is a big part of that, and while it’s far too early to call him a bust now, we may be singing a different tune a year from now if his 2021 campaign doesn’t go better than 2020 did.

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