Nick Gates made his first NFL start for the New York Giants on Sunday when he filled in for the injured Mike Remmers at right tackle. Gates has been a Giant since last spring when they signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Nebraska.
The 6-foot-6, 318-pound Gates spent his rookie season on injured reserve and made the team out of camp this season after an impressive showing at training camp and in preseason games. He basically was added to the roster as depth until general manager Dave Gettleman can fill out the offensive line with some his beloved “hog mollies”.
But Gates might end up being one of those hog mollies. He had a decent showing against the Jets on Sunday and the Giants might keep him in the starting lineup for the remainder of the season with Nate Solder going through the concussion protocol and Remmers dealing with a back issue.
“I thought he played well,” Shurmur said. “Listen, he’s a tough, competitive guy. We were looking forward to seeing him play because we feel like he has a chance to be a good player. He battled. One thing about Nick Gates, he’s tough, he’s competitive and he tries to do things the right way. He had a lot of really good plays out there.”
Gates went undrafted in 2018 for a reason. He wasn’t deemed physically gifted enough fo a team to burn a draft pick on. But how many times have we heard this story over the years? Here is what Rotoworld.com had to say about Gates last year:
“Gates turned pro as a redshirt junior after making 35 career starts, moving from right tackle to left tackle for his final two seasons. He only earned honorable mention All-Big Ten in 2017. Short armed (32″) and a lowly second-percentile SPARQ athlete, Gates isn’t built to play tackle in the NFL and isn’t a good enough blocker to excel inside.”
That’s pretty damning analysis. It did not keep the Giants from extending a flier on him last April. Since then, Gates has done the rest. The Giants aren’t deep on the offensive line and the hard-working Gates has played his way into their plans. For the short term, anyway.
“What I like about Nick Gates as a player is, first of all, he’s a tough guy, he plays with athleticism and balance,” offensive line coach Hal Hunter said last week. “He’s a conceptual player, he kind of does everything you ask him to do. I like everything about him. I think he’s got the mental makeup and he’s got some physical tools. What he needs the most, as any young player, he needs to play more. He needs to play. What he did in the preseason, and all of the different positions he played– he played all five positions in the preseason. He shows a lot of promise, and I’m glad we have him.”
Players surprise all the time. The Giants are hoping they mined a gem here with Gates.