Big Blue Morning: Tackling tackle

March, 20, 2014
Mar 20
9:30
AM ET
Our man Adam Caplan reported Wednesday on Twitter that Charles Brown is scheduled to visit the New York Giants. Brown is a free-agent tackle who turns 27 in April and has played the past four years with the New Orleans Saints. He has started 22 games in his four-year career, 14 of them last season at left tackle before he lost the job in December to Terron Armstead. The Giants' interest in him is likely as a bench guy, a swing tackle to back up left tackle Will Beatty and right tackle Justin Pugh. Not everybody you sign has to be a starter, after all. The rosters are 53-deep and the Giants need as much depth as they can get on that offensive line.

Beatty
Beatty
But the occasion of Brown's arrival into the Giants news cycle offers an opportunity to talk about the tackle position, and I think we should take it. So much of the focus has been on the interior of the Giants' offensive line, where the major breakdowns were most evident last season and where they entered the offseason without any clear-cut 2014 starters. But the tackle positions remain question marks to a lesser degree and merit some attention as this offseason starts to hit a lull.

After a strong 2012 earned him a five-year free-agent contract with the Giants last offseason, Beatty had a terrible 2013. Pro Football Focus ranked him 24th in the NFL among players who played at least 10 games at left tackle, crediting him with nine penalties and a league-high 13 sacks allowed. The Giants committed to Beatty as their long-term franchise left tackle, and in the first year of the contract he was a liability. He admitted late in the season to struggling with the weight of expectations and letting the pressure get to him. Maybe new left guard Geoff Schwartz will help him out. Maybe it was just a bad year and he'll bounce back. But if he struggles again, the Giants are going to have to re-evaluate their long-range plan at this important position.

And it's possible that Pugh, the 2013 first-round pick, could be part of that plan. Pugh's promising rookie season was promising, but it was also a rookie season, and Beatty stands as proof that it's folly to assume long-range success off one good year. Pugh improved as the season went along, and the Giants at this point have no plans to move him from right tackle. But one of the main reasons they drafted him was because they believed he was versatile enough to play guard or tackle, and they didn't know what their specific line needs were going to be in the coming years. So there remains a chance, if they take a tackle in the first round of this year's draft or if, say, someone like Charles Brown comes in and catches fire, that Pugh could shuffle over to guard or even center if they need him to.

The Giants lack depth behind their starters at tackle, as guys like James Brewer and Brandon Mosley look more like guards if anything. So this is a position it would make sense for them to address early in the draft with someone like Michigan's Taylor Lewan if he's there. The Giants still have a number of needs on offense, and next to tight end, wide receiver and honestly center, this doesn't look like a crying one. But it's worth paying attention, because they're really not 100 percent settled at tackle and it's very important.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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