Prior to the 2010 season, Big Blue had one of the most consistent and productive offensive lines in the league. In fact, veterans Chris Snee, David Diehl, Kareem McKenzie, Shaun O'Hara, and Rich Seubert all started 59 of 69 games dating back to the 2006 season. However, Snee and Diehl are the only members of that group currently on the roster, as the team has decided to go with younger, yet unproven players to fill the voids left by the veterans.
One of those younger players is Will Beatty, who is in his fourth year out of UConn. Beatty is a big (6'6"/ 319lbs), strong, athletic specimen that played relatively well for the Giants at left tackle for the majority of last season. However, a detached retina left him sidelined for the final third of the teams improbable Super Bowl run.
While many expect Beatty to come back and improve in 2012, a back injury has left him sidelined for the latter part of training camp so far, and his prognosis seems to be uncertain. On Wednesday, New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin did not discount the notion of moving David Diehl back to left tackle.
“There are all kinds of thought of lots of stuff, but Beatty comes back next week,” Coughlin said. “The idea is to get the best five out there.”
While Sean Locklear is currently lining up as the starting left tackle, there is no way the team will head into week one with that set-up. So although moving Diehl back to the left side would be the team's most sensible option, it would be a sobering reality check for just about every Giants fan.
Diehl's versatility is an extremely valuable asset. However, Pro Football Focus recently ranked him last in pass blocking efficiency among NFL tackles over the last three seasons. Diehl is going to be 31 this year, and he has already showed serious signs of decline in his play. While the team won a Super Bowl with him at left tackle a year ago, there are no guarantees that his play will not deteriorate further in 2012.
Will Beatty should be able to return in time for the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys. With that, David Diehl would be fine protecting Eli Manning's blind side for a game or two. However, for the Giants' to improve their offensive line play from a year ago, David Diehl can not be the team's left tackle in 2012.
While Diehl has been a stalwart on the offensive line for his entire career, he is currently an aging player whose physical abilities are becoming increasingly limited. We have seen him have trouble keeping up with the league's more athletic defensive linemen last season, and we will most likely see it again in 2012. Hopefully Will Beatty's health will not prevent him from becoming the team's long-term solution at one of the most important positions on the roster.
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