The outlook on Beatty’s 2013 counterpart, however, remains a bit muddled.
Right tackle David Diehl, a 10-year veteran, finished the season as the team’s starting right tackle. An injury-plagued season, which included a sprained MCL that cost him seven starts, hampered his performance in 2012.
Diehl has struggled immensely the past two seasons. Repeated attempts to move the 32-year-old offensive lineman into the interior have consistently been thwarted by his teammates’ injuries, forcing him to resume his more natural role on the edge. In this sense, his versatility has made him one of New York’s most valuable linemen.
But after two substandard seasons, offseason knee surgery and a 2013 cap hit worth upwards of $6 million, it should be time for the Giants to explore other options.
This is especially true since Diehl has not been approached by the organization about restructuring his contract, according to John Schmeelk of Giants.com.
Diehl’s heir apparent is not in plain sight, though.
In January, ESPN New York’s Ohm Youngmisuk highlighted offensive tackle James Brewer as a 2013 “breakthrough candidate,” claiming that he could get into the mix for the starting right tackle position.
Brewer is largely unproven, but it’s not dubious to assume he’d be an upgrade from an aging Diehl.
Brewer, a fourth-round pick out of Indiana in the 2011 draft, is a massive prospect. He is an inch taller than Diehl (6'6") and about 25 pounds heavier (330 lbs). But, most importantly, he is seven years younger (25).
It is certain that Brewer’s youth will present a learning curve, as it takes time and practice to accustom oneself to a starting position. Hopefully, Brewer will be able to rely upon his size and athleticism while fine-tuning his craft.
Still, it’s difficult to trust an athlete as untested as Brewer with such a pivotal role on the offensive line. Giants.com beat writer Michael Eisen addressed this uncertainty on his weekly mailbag show.
“I really don’t have any idea, and I don’t think anyone else has any idea,” Eisen said when asked if Brewer is ready to take on a starting job. “He hasn’t really done anything since he’s been here. He has no game experience on the offensive line.”
There’s just as much ambiguity surrounding offensive tackle Sean Locklear, who is scheduled to become a free agent on March 12. Locklear proved to be a valuable acquisition last year, as the nine-year veteran ended up starting nine games (both left and right tackle) in 2012.
When in the lineup, Locklear was just solid enough to get the job done. He was not a groundbreaking starter, but Locklear was the perfect stopgap when Beatty and Diehl were too banged up to take the field.
At 31 years old, it’s unlikely that the Giants take a risk by re-signing Locklear after such a serious knee injury, especially given the team’s current salary cap situation.
So if Diehl, Brewer and Locklear aren’t the answer, where do the Giants look next?
There’s also second-year tackles Brandon Mosley and Matt McCants, but both of them are unlikely to compete since neither player was in uniform for a single game in 2012. New York could scour free agency, but the market for tackles is thin and the organization has very little spending money set aside for 2013.
Perhaps the Giants will strike gold in the draft. Starting a rookie at right tackle would not be ideal, but if he is pedigreed first-rounder, why not take a chance?
Some experts are already predicting this for the Giants.
Tony Pauline of USA Today also believes the Giants must address the deficiency at right tackle in the first round of the draft. Pauline predicts that the Giants will select Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson, an offensive tackle with “tremendous upside.”
The Giants certainly have plenty of options at right tackle for 2013, but none of them are risk-free. In the coming months, the Giants will do plenty of talent assessment to field the best possible option to seal off that right edge.