Andrew Thomas (71) blocks during a game against Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee on Oct. 7, 2017 (Photo/Jane Snyder, www.janemarysnyder.com)

In the 2018 and 2019 NFL Drafts, the New York Giants used their first draft picks on running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Daniel Jones, respectively. With the fourth overall pick this year, the Giants were searching for someone to protect Barkley and Jones — and did so by selecting former Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas.

Drafting former Bulldogs has become routine for the Giants, who selected linebacker Lorenzo Carter in 2018 and cornerback Deandre Baker in 2019. They also used the 255th and final pick of this year’s draft on linebacker Tae Crowder.

This year’s draft class was notably stronger at offensive tackle than years prior, as six tackles were selected in the first round alone. Giants general manager Dave Gettleman gave multiple reasons as to why he believed Thomas was worthy of being the first offensive tackle selected.

“He’s got all the tools to play,” Gettleman said on a virtual call posted on giants.com. “He’s athletic, he’s long, he’s smart, he’s tough and he plays with power. You’re talking about a three-year starter in the Southeastern Conference who played a myriad of pass rushers. ... We feel really good about [Thomas], not only as a player, but as a person.”

Thomas started at both right and left tackle throughout his three seasons at Georgia. He was a freshman All-American at right tackle in 2017 and received All-America honors at left tackle in his sophomore and junior seasons. His experience on both sides of the offensive line will bode well for him early on with the Giants.

For the past two seasons, nine-year veteran Nate Solder has started at left tackle for the Giants, who is entering the third season of his four-year, $62 million contract. Although Solder hasn’t played to the level of his contract, asking Thomas to man the left side of the offensive line in his rookie season may be too much, especially since that would put him alongside a third-year guard in Will Hernandez.

The more rational option is to have Thomas start at right tackle. There, he’ll play beside guard Kevin Zeitler, who has 118 starts in his career.

Because he was selected No. 4 overall, Thomas appears to be who the Giants see as their left tackle of the future. Given how Thomas’ career shaped out at Georgia, beginning his NFL career at right tackle — as he did in college — may not be such a bad idea.

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