The Giants lost an offensive lineman today when left tackle Nate Solder decided to opt-out of the 2020 season. This decision was based on the fact his son, Hudson is undergoing treatment for cancer.
No matter what you think of Solder and his on the field skills, the Giants lost someone important this season.
The Giants drafted Georgia tackle Andrew Thomas fourth overall back in April and also drafted UConn offensive tackle Matt Peart in the third round. Fans and reporters have touted Thomas to be a day one starter, whether it is the right or the left side. That was before Solder made his decision.
The rookie out of Georgia is even more likely to start now at left tackle. The Giants drafted him to be the future left tackle and Solder’s replacement. Especially after Solder gave up 11 sacks and 57 pressures in 2019.
But the real question is: Should Cameron Fleming be the starting right tackle Week 1?
Why Cameron Fleming Should Start for the New York Giants in Week 1
Cameron Fleming has more experience than any other tackle on the roster at the moment. He also has the special quality of having familiarity with head coach Joe Judge, offensive line coach Marc Colombo and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.
Fleming has appeared in 75 games in his career, starting 26 of them. He started the most games in his sophomore season in 2015, in which he started seven.
Other than that, Fleming has played decent as a backup and is willing to fill in at times of need when he is called off the bench.
His familiarity with the staff and playing the most games of any tackle on the roster makes him qualified to start Week 1 at right tackle.
Why Cameron Fleming Should Not Start the Season Opener
The game experience and the familiarity land on Fleming’s side of the argument. But the Giants likely don’t intend on keeping Fleming long-term.
If the Giants want to transition to a young offensive line, to get Jones’ used to his future protectors, Fleming would not be the smart move.
Peart likely is not ready until midseason or late in the season, even with training camp pushed back. One other person that qualifies as a challenger to Fleming is Nick Gates.
Gates, after being on injured reserve in 2019, impressed coaches and fans with his solid play at right tackle and right guard last season. He started two games at right tackle and one at right guard.
He allowed only one sack in 290 snaps and earned a 77.0 overall grade from Pro Football Focus last year. Fleming allowed two sacks in 258 snaps and earned a 59.4 overall grade from PFF last year.
Both had limited time as backups, but Gates was the better lineman.
Gates is ideologically a young piece for the future Giants offensive line and if they start Spencer Pulley at center right away, Gates should not go to waste. That is knowing Gates has more future football in him than Fleming has.
The Giants could go either way next year, as far as the right tackle position goes.
They don’t have a team that is contending and the young players are still learning in the NFL after the coaching change. But knowing Judge, he would like to be in a position to squeeze out some tough matchups and get some wins for this squad, knowing Dave Gettleman‘s job is on the line.
If they want to give Peart some time to develop, they will most likely give the job to Cameron Fleming but Nick Gates could still swipe it.
They’ll go with Fleming if they want Gates at the center position or as a reserve lineman, but if they go with Gates that means they are sticking to a younger approach.
The Big Blue fanbase is mostly in favor of Nick Gates and so am I.