Top 5 Training Camp Battles: The Center Position

By Michael Stewart/@golferbad

This will be a 5-part series on what I believe will be the top 5 positional battles in training camp for the New York Giants. There might be more than five positions that could be up for grabs, but I’m going to focus on my top 5 that I believe will be the most intriguing during training camp and the preseason games.

First up, I’m going to focus on the center position for the Giants with currently our only candidate with NFL experience in Spencer Pulley, but the Giants have several contenders looking to un-seed the veteran.  Let’s take a look at the candidates at the center position.

  • Spencer Pulley: Currently the front runner based on experience and overall resume at the center position. Played well in 2018 once Halapio was lost for the 2nd half of the season. Didn’t get any opportunity in 2019 at all. Pulley will be given every opportunity in training camp and he will need to regain his 2018 performance to earn a starting spot on the offensive line.
  • Nick Gates: Gates is the modern-day version of David Diehl early in his career, playing anywhere along the offensive line just to get playing time. Gates has done well in his limited time at guard and tackle. Gates has been working at the center for the best year in an emergency role, now he is looking to make it home in 2020.
  • Shane Lemieux: Lemieux played mostly guard in college and is considered a superior run blocker. However; the Giants drafted Lemieux with the expectations that perhaps Lemieux has the makeup to transition to center with the proper guidance from OL coach Marc Columbo. 
  • Kyle Murphy: Murphy is a UDFA who has played every position along the OL throughout his college career. He might be a bit undersize at the moment and would need to get bigger and stronger to compete in the NFL. Murphy might not make a dent in 2020, but the Giants could see enough in him to place him on the practice squad and let him develop into a solid lineman; whether or not it’s at the center or at another position.
  • Jon Halapio: Halapio is currently a free agent and recovering from an injury. The only reason I’m throwing his name into the hat is based on comments made by GM Dave Gettleman and his desire of possibly bringing Halapio back into the mix if necessary as Halapio has been the Giants starting center for the past two seasons and wouldn’t cost much to re-sign him.

Final Thoughts:

The COVID-19 pandemic has hindered the Giants from really getting a good look at these players at center and unless they’re majors strides from Nick Gates and/or Shane Lemieux, the center position belongs to Spencer Pulley at this time. GM Dave Gettleman could decide to go outside of the organization to find a center if they are not confident with their in house candidates. If so, then the competition as the center position will intensify even more before opening day.

Also, it’s not a stretch that the Giants could release Pulley if he struggles and Gates or Lemieux perform well and/or if the Giants do re-sign Halapio for much less and Pulley would save the Giants $2.75M in cap space with no dead money at all. That is just speculation on my part as Gettleman has been known to make moves out of nowhere.

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