John Michael Schmitz

Latest On Giants’ Offensive Line

Andrew Thomas‘ absence was glaringly visible on a historically bad pass-protection night. The Giants’ 11 sacks allowed set a Monday Night Football record, with backup left tackle Joshua Ezeudu struggling as the Seahawks padded their total late in the rout.

The Giants are expected to be without Thomas against the Dolphins as well. Brian Daboll said he is leaning no on the All-Pro left tackle coming back for Week 5. Thomas sustained a setback on his way back from the strained hamstring he suffered in Week 1, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. This will make four straight absences.

Ezeudu, who worked as a backup left tackle during parts of training camp, was expected to win one of the guard battles this summer. But those went to Ben Bredeson and Mark Glowinski. Though, the team’s setup inside has changed as well. Despite signing a three-year deal worth $18.3MM, Glowinski has endured multiple demotions this season. The Giants benched the longtime Colts starter after his Week 1 struggles, and the New York Post’s Ryan Dunleavy notes the veteran has been bumped to the bottom of the depth chart.

New York demoted Glowinski a second time during Week 2, and he did not play an offensive snap in Week 3. Bredeson and 2022 fifth-round pick Marcus McKethan, who missed all of his rookie year due to an ACL tear, opened Week 4 as Big Blue’s guard starters. Pro Football Focus ranks all three blockers outside the top 55 among guards. Shane Lemieux started ahead of Glowinski in Week 3 but suffered a groin injury Monday. The door keeps reopening for Glowinski, a four-year Colts right guard starter whom PFF viewed as a top-30 guard in his first Giants season. A 2024 release seems likely at this point, however. That move will save the Giants $5.7MM.

The Giants did not invest much in guards this offseason, having signed Glowinski in March 2022 and drafted Ezeudu in Round 3 a month later. No answers have come for the team, which has also seen right tackle Evan Neal continue to struggle. This allowed for Seahawks target practice on Daniel Jones on Monday night, and the Giants have since added Justin Pugh. The former 2013 Giants draftee joined the practice squad, but given the team’s guard state, the five-year Cardinals starter should be expected to be elevated soon.

Some additional shuffling became required after center John Michael Schmitz suffered a shoulder injury on the Giants’ failed “Tush Push”-style QB sneak. Adding insult to injury, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler notes tight end Daniel Bellinger sustained an MCL strain on that play. While Bellinger’s injury is seen as moderate, the Giants losing two regulars on that play — after only previously repping it in a walkthrough setting — compounds the troubles they are experiencing up front.

Matt Peart resides as the only other tackle on the Giants’ roster, in the event the team benches Ezeudu. Thomas, who is now the NFL’s second-highest-paid O-lineman after signing a $23.5MM-per-year extension this summer, is on track to match his career high for single-season absences. He missed four games in 2021 as well.

Giants Add G Justin Pugh To Practice Squad

In the wake of one of the worst pass-protecting performances in primetime NFL history, the Giants will add an experienced reinforcement. Their recent Justin Pugh visit will produce a reunion.

Pugh is rejoining the Giants on a practice squad deal,’s Mike Garafolo tweets. A Giants first-round pick back in 2013, Pugh spent five seasons with the franchise before joining the Cardinals as a free agent in 2018. Pugh expressed interest in rejoining the Giants late this summer and worked out for his old team last month. He will join a team reeling up front.

The 11th-year veteran suffered a torn ACL in Week 6 of last season, cutting his Cardinals contract year short. Pugh, 33, considered retirement before last season but had said he received interest from a few teams this offseason. The in-season signing likely comes due to his health, but he received clearance in late August.

The Giants have top-10 draftees at both tackle spots, and second-rounder John Michael Schmitz is in place to stop a center carousel. But the team has not invested too much at guard. Mark Glowinski is attached to a midlevel free agency pact, but the ex-Colts starter needed to compete for his job in training camp and was benched in Week 2. While the Giants did not pursue guards in free agency, letting Nick Gates walk, they are rather desperate for help now.

Injuries, however, have significantly affected the team. Joshua Ezeudu, a guard by trade, has started in place of Thomas at left tackle. Schmitz suffered an injury on the Giants’ failed effort to replicate the Eagles’ “Tush Push/Brotherly Shove” play Monday night. Brian Daboll said (via Fox Sports’ Ralph Vacchiano) the team had not repped that particular QB sneak in practice, only doing so in a walkthrough. The Giants also finished Monday night’s game without backup Shane Lemieux, who suffered a groin injury. The Seahawks finished the 24-3 win with a Monday Night Football-record 11 sacks.

After vacillating between guard and right tackle during his first Giants go-round, Pugh signed with the Cardinals as a guard. He signed a five-year, $45MM contract and started 56 games for the team from 2018-22. (He started 63 games for the Giants, being a regular on the last batch of Eli Manning-led teams.) Pugh represented an O-line constant during Kyler Murray‘s ascent, helping the team to the playoffs in 2021. That season, Pugh ranked fifth among guards in ESPN’s pass block win rate metric.

The Giants will hope the veteran blocker can reprise his pre-injury form. It should be expected Pugh will be promoted to the active roster soon, pending a successful ramp-up period.

NFC East Notes: Commanders, Kearse, Giants

Battling a turf toe issue sustained Monday night, Terry McLaurin will not need surgery. But an extended rest period is underway. This hiatus has the top Commanders skill-position talent uncertain to be ready by Week 1, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Jeremy Fowler (Twitter links). McLaurin has not missed a game due to injury since 2020. The Commanders have made some big investments at wide receiver since starting McLaurin’s tenure off with little around him. Curtis Samuel is going into the final season of his three-year, $34.5MM contract, and the team has first-rounder Jahan Dotson going into his second season. But McLaurin has been one of the NFL’s best receivers, totaling his third straight 1,000-yard season months after signing a three-year, $69.6MM extension.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

Giants Holding Competitions At All Three Interior O-Line Spots

Making two top-10 picks at tackle over the past four years, the Giants have no questions at those positions. They also used a second-round choice on center John Michael Schmitz, and while the Minnesota product is a decent bet to begin his career as a starter, the Giants are not ensuring that route will open up just yet.

More notably, 2022 free agency addition Mark Glowinski does not appear a lock to keep his job, Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post tweets. Swingman Ben Bredeson, who is also in contention for left guard, has mixed in regularly with the first team on the right side, with The Athletic’s Dan Duggan and Charlotte Carroll most recently noting Bredeson’s first-team RG usage (subscription required).

A 2021 trade acquisition from the Ravens, Bredeson has mixed in at all three spots along the Giants’ interior during training camp. He appears the top Schmitz competitor at center, while having begun recent practices (via Duggan) as the first-string left guard. Bredeson mixed in with Glowinski at right guard and 2022 third-round pick Joshua Ezeudu on the left side Tuesday. The former fourth-round pick is going into a contract year.

Bredeson being used at all three spots suggests the Giants have a potential swing role in mind, with Ezeudu also seeing steady first-unit time at left guard. Seeing the Joe Schoen-era Day 2 draftee seize the LG job alongside fellow Schoen pickups Schmitz and Glowinski would probably be the scenario the Giants prefer. Bredeson started eight games last season, playing a career-high 541 offensive snaps. The Giants lost center Jon Feliciano and guard/center Nick Gates in free agency; Bredeson would supply experience and represent insurance alongside Ezeudu (290 rookie-year snaps) and Schmitz.

Glowinski, 31, signed a three-year, $18.3MM deal that came with $11.4MM guaranteed. The longtime Colts starter gave the Giants 16 starts at right guard last season, as a rotation formed at the other guard post. Pro Football Focus graded Glowinski as last year’s No. 29 overall guard. It would be rather odd to see Glowinski benched, but the Giants are going through several options up front. Tyre Phillips, a 2022 waiver claim from the Ravens, has also taken first-team reps at left guard, Jordan Raanan of tweets.

This batch of blockers looks to have relegated Shane Lemieux to the roster bubble, Duggan adds. The fourth-year lineman has not been among the competitors for the Giants’ LG job. Lemieux has battled significant injury problems over the past two years, seeing a September 2021 patellar tendon tear keep him off the field until November 2022. A toe injury then limited Lemieux to one game all season. With the Giants activating former fifth-rounder Marcus McKethan from the active/PUP list Monday — after an August 2022 ACL tear — Lemieux will need to fight for a job during this year’s preseason. While Lemieux has mixed in as a backup center as well, Jack Anderson is also on the radar for that post.

The Giants chose Schmitz at No. 56 overall, viewing him as the better option compared to consideration Jalin Hyatt, whom they circled back to in Round 3. Just before the Schmitz pick, Brian Daboll said the All-Big Ten blocker could start in Week 1. Schmitz received every first-team center rep Tuesday, per Duggan and Carroll. It would surprise if he were not Big Blue’s starting pivot to open the season.

Latest On Giants’ Offensive Line

The Giants selecting John Michael Schmitz in Round 2, making the Minnesota product the first pure center drafted this year, points to four positions along their offensive line being solidified. Schmitz earning the starting snapper gig would mean he accompanies Andrew Thomas, Evan Neal and Mark Glowinski on New York’s O-line.

With Glowinski stationed at right guard, left guard would seem the unit’s only question. That is, if Brian Daboll‘s draft-weekend assessment of Schmitz’s instant-starter capabilities turns out to be accurate. But the Giants are sending veteran Ben Bredeson into two position competitions, per the New York Post’s Ryan Dunleavy.

The 2021 trade acquisition is vying for both the left guard and center positions, with Dunleavy adding the ex-Raven should probably be considered the favorite at the LG spot. The Giants used a rotation at that position last season, platooning Bredeson and Nick Gates. Washington signed Gates in free agency, clearing a path for Bredeson to earn the job outright in a contract year. Bredeson is going against fellow contract-year blocker Shane Lemieux and 2022 third-round pick Joshua Ezeudu, per Dunleavy.

Lemieux held a starting job during the second half of the 2020 season, replacing Will Hernandez and taking over after the former starter recovered, but suffered a patellar tendon tear in September 2021. That career-stalling injury delayed Lemieux’s return until late November of last year, and the former fifth-round pick only suited up for one game last season. A toe injury added to Lemieux’s early-career health issues. Ezeudu, one of two ex-North Carolina guards the Giants drafted last year (along with fifth-rounder Marcus McKethan), played 290 offensive snaps as a rookie.

Pro Football Focus graded Glowinski, a longtime Colts starter, as a top-30 guard last season. It slotted Bredeson as the best of the rest, ranking him just outside the top 50. Bredson, a former fourth-round pick, has played guard more than center and should probably be considered a long shot to beat out Schmitz at the latter spot. With Bredeson, Lemieux, Ezeudu and McKethan rostered, along with ex-Steelers center J.C. Hassenauer and 2022 second-stringer Jack Anderson, the Giants will have some decisions to make when setting their final 53. McKethan did not play last year, suffering an ACL tear during the preseason.

None of these interior blockers is in the mix to be the team’s top tackle off the bench, with Matt Peart, Korey Cunningham and Tyre Phillips are battling for the swing gig behind Thomas and Neal. Phillips, claimed off waivers from the Ravens last year, made five starts in 2022 but worked behind the other two to start OTAs. Peart and Cunningham each have six career starts, though neither has seen much time since their respective rookie years. An outside addition to work behind Thomas and Neal should not be ruled out, per Dunleavy.

These O-line competitions will not heat up until training camp, obviously, as pads do not come on until August. Despite losing Gates and 2022 center starter Jon Feliciano in free agency, the Giants have a few options along their offensive front.

Giants Sign Round 2 C John Michael Schmitz, Wrap Draft Class Deals

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 Banksdeal 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)

Giants Nearly Used Second-Round Pick On WR Jalin Hyatt

A popular team for pre-draft wide receiver visits, the Giants discussed potential deals that would have moved them into wideout range in this year’s first round. Instead opting to stand down, Big Blue saw four receivers go off the board just before their first-round pick.

Although the Giants did not end up with Zay Flowers or Jordan Addison — pre-draft visitors the team eyed on Day 1 — they added Tennessee prospect Jalin Hyatt to their receiving corps. The Giants took Hyatt in Round 3, but they were prepared to select him a round earlier.

When the Jaguars went on the clock for their No. 56 pick, the Giants had Hyatt and center John Michael Schmitz as their targets. Jacksonville traded the pick to Chicago, and with Giants brass concerned the NFC North team eyed one of its preferred players, Brian Daboll said Hyatt was likely going to be the pick at No. 57. With the Bears opting for cornerback Tyrique Stevenson, the Giants proceeded with Schmitz, a Minnesota product Daboll said (video link) “could start at center.”

That will likely be the expectation for Schmitz, but the Giants managed to land Hyatt 16 picks later. It took a trade-up with the Rams — one that cost the Giants Nos. 89 and 128 — but the Giants moved into position for Hyatt at No. 73. During the gap between the Schmitz and Hyatt picks, two other receivers — Marvin Mims and Nathaniel Dell — went off the board (to the Broncos and Texans, respectively). The reigning Biletnikoff winner remained available and is now in New York.

The Giants carried a top four of Sterling Shepard, Kadarius Toney, Kenny Golladay and 2022 second-round pick Wan’Dale Robinson at receiver entering last season. Those plans quickly changed. Season-ending injuries removed Shepard and Robinson from the equation, and Toney’s unreliability led the Giants to trade him to the Chiefs. (The Giants used the third-rounder obtained in that deal to trade for Darren Waller in March.) Darius Slayton became a key performer by default, with the since-released Golladay quickly benched. The Giants re-signed Slayton and Shepard and are set to have Robinson back in the mix. The holdovers, a contingent that includes midseason waiver claim Isaiah Hodgins, join Hyatt, Jamison Crowder and Parris Campbell.

The Giants again considered an Odell Beckham Jr. reunion; the Ravens’ $15MM guaranteed won out. Had Beckham signed, the Giants’ receiver draft plan may have differed. But Hyatt, who rode a five-touchdown performance against Alabama to the Biletnikoff award, will soon be a key part of Daboll’s plan. The 6-foot pass catcher is coming off a 1,267-yard, 15-touchdown season. Joining a suddenly crowded receiver room, it will be interesting to see how the speedster factors in to start his rookie year.

Several Teams Interested In C John Michael Schmitz

Center is an intriguing position when determining draft value, as the top centers can be extremely valuable but aren’t always considered first rounders. The most recent example saw the Ravens draft Tyler Linderbaum last year to be rewarded with a top-six center, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

While this year’s top centers, Joe Tippmann of Wisconsin and John Michael Schmitz of Minnesota, aren’t entirely expected to go in the first round, Schmitz has been receiving plenty of interest and shouldn’t last long into the second round, if he’s still available by then.

We had noted a private workout with the Steelers weeks ago. Since then, Schmitz has participated in a private workout and dinner with the Jets, a top 30 visit and dinner with the Seahawks, a top 30 visit with the Vikings, and a coach workout and dinner with the Giants, according to Pat Leonard of New York Daily News. Additionally, the 24-year-old has had Zoom contact with the Texans, Titans, Colts, Bills, and Packers.

Seattle has reportedly been “all over” Schmitz, according to Leonard. After the retirement announcement of center Austin Blythe, the Seahawks certainly could use a strong new potential starter to anchor their line. The only center currently on the roster is career backup Joey Hunt, who returned to Seattle last year after two seasons with the Colts. The other team that has shown a lot of love towards Schmitz is the Jets, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN. With Connor McGovern‘s contract expiring this offseason, New York could also use a young, new center for presumed quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

While center can be a tough position to pinpoint and Tippmann remains as competition for the best center prospect, the sheer amount of interest in Schmitz leads to the belief that he won’t last long into Day 2 of the draft later this month. That’s if he even makes it past Day 1.

Draft Notes: Seahawks, Eagles, Carter, Steelers

Armed with a pair of top-20 picks, the Seahawks have been busy evaluating their first-round options. This past week, the organization was busy scouting some of the draft’s top quarterback prospects.

According to Albert Breer of (via Twitter), the Seahawks sent a “contingent” led by head coach Pete Carroll, general manager John Schneider, offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, and quarterbacks coach Greg Olson to meet privately with Alabama quarterback Bryce Young. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Field Yates tweets that the Seahawks also checked out the Pro Days for C.J. Stroud and Will Levis.

The Seahawks inked quarterback Geno Smith to a three-year extension, but the team-friendly nature of that deal shouldn’t preclude the organization from selecting a QB prospect in the upcoming draft. Seattle is in possession of picks No. 5 and No. 20, meaning they even have the ammo to trade up for one of the preferred targets. The more realistic route would see the organization staying pat at No. 5 and potentially selecting a signal-caller.

More draft notes from around the NFL…

  • One of the league’s most dynamic offenses is eyeing one of the draft’s most dynamic playmakers. Texas running back Bijan Robinson had a predraft visit with the Eagles earlier this week, per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo (via Twitter). The Eagles lost top RB Miles Sanders this offseason, but they’ve added Rashaad Penny to a RB room that still features mainstays Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott. As Garafolo warns, Eagles GM Howie Roseman has never selected a running back in the first round, and the organization hasn’t taken a first-round RB since 1986.
  • Jalen Carter has had a concerning predraft process. He had to leave the combine while facing charges of reckless driving and draft racing following a deadly car accident that killed a Georgia teammate and staffer. As Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post writes, the defensive lineman also “put on considerable weight” before his pro day, and his performance was described as “less than stellar.” When coupled with the potential run on QBs, Carter could fall out of the top-five, something that was unthinkable only a few months ago. However, one executive doesn’t believe Carter will experience a significant fall down draft boards and attributed the poor performance to tough coaching. “It really wasn’t as bad as how it was reported,” the exec told La Canfora. “I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. [Chiefs defensive line coach] Joe Cullen was leading the drills, and he went pretty hard on the kid. I don’t know if he was trying to make a point, but he had him doing the same drills as [much smaller linebacker] Nolan Smith, and he was really trying to wear the kid out.”
  • The Steelers could use the draft to add a defensive tackle, and the organization has already met with Michigan lineman Mazi Smith. Aaron Wilson of believes Pittsburgh would select Smith over Clemson’s Bryan Bresee at pick No. 17, but there’s a “a battle between the two.” Ultimately, Wilson says Smith’s “rough-and-tumble style” would better fit the Steelers’ mold than Bresee’s “finesse.” Meanwhile, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweets that Minnesota OL John Michael Schmitz met with the Steelers earlier this week, so the team is definitely keeping their options open in the middle of the first round.
  • Before yesterday’s pro day, Boston College wideout Zay Flowers met with the Saints and Giants, according to Pelissero (on Twitter). The projected first-round pick has put on 13 pounds of muscle during the pre-combine process, and Pelissero believes the wideout could add even more weight before the draft.