This wasn’t only a dream come true for tackle Andrew Thomas, drafted by the New York Football Giants in Thursday night’s 2020 NFL Draft.
It is a dream come true for Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley, in some small way a merciful interruption from our coronavirus pandemic nightmare.
Better late than never for Giants GM Dave Gettleman fixing an offensive line for his rookie head coach, Joe Judge, that will give Jones a chance to make the second-year leap and give Barkley a chance to honor his generational genius and run to daylight, and if he can stay healthy, perhaps to Canton.
As long as Gettleman picked the right tackle, as in correct tackle, as long as this isn’t the Second Coming of Ereck Flowers, he will have successfully killed two birds with one stone with the fourth pick of this virtual NFL Draft.
And just like that, upgraded three positions.
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It should be encouraging to Giants fans that Gettleman and Judge appear to be philosophically aligned on building a team that finally reflects the tough, gritty, resilient Big Blue-collar people in the metropolitan area whom Judge referenced at his introductory press conference.
Gettleman drafted Jones with the sixth pick a year ago to win a championship one day. That day isn’t near, but at least Barkley is now better equipped to help him get there.
“This was an important piece for us, in Daniel’s development and for Saquon as well,” Gettleman said.
“Don’t forget the running part of it. And he is a hell of a run blocker.”
Hog Molly Heaven for Gettleman.
Hog Heaven for Jones and Barkley.
“It’s a blessing to be able to play with guys who are as talented as they are,” the soft-spoken Thomas said on a Zoom video conference.
Thomas, just as with the other three stud tackles in this draft class, can be nitpicked for this or for that, for staying off the ground, but in the collaborative, socially distanced minds of Gettleman and Judge, there was no doubting Thomas.
Three-year starter at Georgia … long and strong and bendy and athletic in the open field and 6-foot-5, 315 pounds … played big in the big games, and fared well against former Kentucky star and now Jaguars edge-rusher Josh Allen … has played left tackle and right tackle.
All that, and a drummer in his church band, and a member of his Pace Academy (Atlanta) drum line. He plays the piano, too.
“I’d be at the pep rally, and I’d be playing in the band with my jersey on and then I’d go over to the football team and do the football things,” Thomas told the Los Angeles Times.
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Thomas is music to the franchise quarterback’s wars, and music to Barkley’s ears. Thomas doesn’t have to be one of Gettleman’s Gold Jacket Guys. But he better be the franchise left tackle for the better part of the next decade, and possibly starting there as a rookie if he can unseat Nate Solder. He better be the Giants’ version of D’Brickashaw Ferguson, the fourth pick of the 2005 draft by then-GM Mike Tannenbaum. Ferguson manned left tackle for a decade for the Jets.
“People say you draft a quarterback, you gotta get him weapons … once you draft a quarterback, you get guys in front of him that’ll keep him upright,” Gettleman said.
Which is exactly what former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi did for Eli Manning. Thomas, of course, arrives a year too late for Eli. Jones can be comforted enough to work on his fumblitis.
“The offensive line’s a fist,” Accorsi told The Post by phone (of course). “If you lose one finger out of that fist, it’s gonna fall apart.”
A thumbs up for Gettleman.
“The thing he does well is he’s really, really consistent,” former Georgia offensive line coach Sam Pittman, now the head coach at Arkansas, told the Akron Beacon Journal. “You know what you’re going to get, and he’ll be up on the game plan and know what he’s doing. He’ll be up on the defenders. He’ll do his film study. He’s good about all those things.
“He’ll grab some in his pass pro. Instead of shooting them from his frame, he’ll pop them outside his frame at times. It gets him in trouble, and sometimes he’ll close his shoulders too much in his set and have to turn and open the gate. He can get away with that because he’s athletic, but he’s got to be a little bit more consistent there.”
Especially since he’ll be standing between Redskins defensive end Chase Young and Jones for a long, long time.
“The confidence comes with preparation,” Thomas said.
Three cheers for the new tackle … and for Daniel Jones … and for Saquon Barkley. Three positions better today than they were yesterday.