John Michael Schmitz

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.