New York Giants should target guard Mike Iupati this offseason


Flashback to draft night 2010. Three picks after the New York Giants select Jason Pierre-Paul. the San Francisco 49ers select OG Mike Iupati, a player that the Giants reportedly also liked a lot. Five years later both players have been selected to the Pro Bowl. On that draft night the Giants could only choose one of those players.

Now they have a chance to sign Iupati. They need to take that chance.

Mike Iupati is a 27- year-old, four-time Pro Bowl choice. Over the past five seasons, he has established himself as one of the top interior linemen in the league, specifically when it comes to running the football.

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The Giants offensive line continues to be a work in progress. Over the past two seasons they have drafted linemen early selecting OT Justin Pugh (1st round 2013) and C Weston Richburg (2nd round 2014.) They signed Geoff Schwartz, who was considered the best free agent guard last year, and have Will Beatty locked in at left tackle.

According to the Giants current depth chart, their left tackle is Will Beatty, their starting left guard is Richburg (who will move by all indications move to center spot after playing out of position at LG his rookie season. J.D. Walton is listed as the current center, John Jerry as the right guard, and Pugh at right tackle.

Even with Richburg transitioning to center, and if  Schwartz remains healthy enough to start, there is still need for upgrades. Jerry is far from being called an elite player, Schwartz is no lock to be healthy, and there is no guarantee that Richburg’s transition to center will be easy.

Which leaves the interior line with a lot of question marks.

Enter Iupati.

Iupati would bring a lot to the Giants. His experience means he would provide leadership to young players like Richburg and Pugh. He would help improve the Giants run game while solidifying the guard position.

With Schwartz’s spot, and the newly signed guard Brent Jones can compete for playing time in the event Schwartz gets injured.

Many people have speculated that the Giants will draft a tackle, and move Pugh to guard next year.

I don’t agree with this strategy.

The Giants always talk about drafting the best available player regardless of position. If they see at No. 9 a player they rate higher than a tackle, they won’t reach for a tackle simply based on need. If the Giants don’t draft a lineman in the first round, they would be left with roughly the same offensive line they had last year. The same line that ranked near the bottom in the league for average yards per run.

Signing Iupati frees them up to continue this strategy. Plus, I don’t think moving Pugh from tackle to guard is the best idea. He has already played under two different offensive coordinators (Kevin Gilbride and Ben Mcadoo) who run different offenses. If he moves inside, he would be learning Mcadoo’s offense for the first time again from the guard spot.

It may not seem to some like a big deal. But too much change for young players early in their careers doesn’t bode well for their future. Quarterback Alex Smith struggled early in his career in part because they changed offensive coordinators too soon after they were hired to get comfortable in that particular system.

In the draft, I feel the Giants would be better off addressing the defensive side of the ball. With Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo back, the Giants need to reestablish their pass rush. The draft is deep with pass rushers, meaning there will still be very good pass rushers available when it comes time to make their pick. OLB Vic Beasley would not be a reach at No. 9.

Sep 27, 2014; Clemson, SC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Marquise Williams (12) is brought down by Clemson Tigers defensive end Vic Beasley (3) during the second quarter at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

It’s much more challenging to sign an elite pass-rusher than to draft one. Teams hold on to these players because you can never have enough of them. Just look at the Seattle Seahawks.

Interior linemen are easier to sign because they don’t command the same salaries as elite pass rushers. In 2012, Guard Carl Nicks signed a 5-year 47.5 million dollar deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The same offseason Defensive End Mario Williams, considered one of the best at his position, signed a 6-year 100 million dollar contract with the Buffalo Bills.

The winning formula for their offseason is to sign Iupati and draft a pass-rusher.

Next: How close are the Giants to winning a title?

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