For the second time in a decade, the Giants chose a center in the second round of a draft. Nine years after the team’s Weston Richburg pick, John Michael Schmitz will be tabbed to take over as the starting snapper.
Schmitz will begin moving in that direction with a contract in place. The Minnesota product agreed to his four-year rookie deal Tuesday, Dan Duggan of The Athletic tweets. This wraps the Giants’ seven-man 2023 draft class. Deonte Banks‘ deal includes the customary fifth-year option; the rest of the lot is inked through the 2026 season.
In the leadup to the Giants choosing Schmitz at No. 57, Brian Daboll proclaimed he has the ability to become a Week 1 starter. With the Giants letting 2022 center starter Jon Feliciano walk in free agency, Schmitz will be positioned to take over.
The team deployed Richburg as its starting pivot from 2014-17, but instability hit in the years since the Miami product left in free agency. The Giants have used a few stopgaps — from Spencer Pulley to Jon Halapio to Nick Gates to Feliciano — in the years since Richburg joined the 49ers. A severe Gates injury in September 2021 made center a need area, leading to the Feliciano deal last year. Both Gates and Feliciano are elsewhere now — with the Commanders and 49ers, respectively. The Giants had Gates and Feliciano deals on their radar, but both ended up elsewhere in the NFC.
After doing some work on Schmitz before the draft, the Giants made the ex-Golden Gopher the first pure center off the board this year. Scouts Inc.’s No. 47 overall prospect, the 6-foot-3 lineman did use the extra year of eligibility the NCAA granted amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Schmitz turned 24 earlier this year, putting him on the older end for highly drafted rookies. He spent the bulk of the past three seasons as Minnesota’s starting center, earning second-team All-Big Ten acclaim (behind Ravens 2022 first-rounder Tyler Linderbaum) in 2021 and first-team all-conference recognition last season.
Schmitz joins Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal as highly drafted Giants O-linemen. The team has just one veteran-contract starter — right guard Mark Glowinski — in place up front, though Thomas is on track for a monster extension. Thomas may need to wait until 2024, considering the Giants just reupped 2019 first-rounder Dexter Lawrence and exercised their All-Pro tackle’s fifth-year option.
With Schmitz signed, here is a look at how the Giants proceeded in the 2023 draft:
Round 1, No. 24 (from Jaguars): Deonte Banks, CB (Maryland) (signed)
Round 2, No. 57: John Michael Schmitz, C (Minnesota) (signed)
Round 3, No. 73 (from Browns through Texans and Rams): Jalin Hyatt, WR (Tennessee) (signed)
Round 5, No. 172: Eric Gray, RB (Oklahoma) (signed)
Round 6, No. 209 (from Chiefs): Tre Hawkins, CB (Old Dominion) (signed)
Round 7, No. 243: Jordon Riley, DT (Oregon) (signed)
Round 7, No. 254: Gervarrius Owens, S (Houston) (signed)