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New York Giants 2024 Training Camp Preview: C John Michael Schmitz 



New York Giants 2024 Training Camp Preview: C John Michael Schmitz 

It’s been a long time since the New York Giants have had the same starting center on opening day for more than two seasons.

The last time they accomplished that was 2015-2016, when Weston Richburg, a second-round draft pick in 2014, held down the position. After a series of “one-and-done’s” at the position since then, the Giants hope that in John Michael Schmitz, they finally have their starting center for the next decade.

Schmitz, the team’s second-round draft pick last season, is entering his second NFL season this year. He was one of the top-rated centers in the 2023 draft class and was a clear target of the Giants during the draft process.

Like all rookies, Schmitz, who played college ball, came with his warts, many of which showed up in his rookie season. These included mobility issues, climbing to the second level (he was frequently a tick or two too late), and not sealing off his edges when attacked.

But there’s a lot to like about Schmitz’s game, starting with his determination to fix his shortcomings and his cerebral approach to the game. Schmitz was usually spot on with his protection calls and identifying what he was seeing, which is half the battle.

If he can clean up some of the physical stuff within his technique–and again,t here’s no reason to think he can’t–the Giants might just have found their long-term center for the next decade in this 25-year-old who bears something of a striking resemblance face-wise to another one-time Giants center, Bart Oates of the 1980s teams.

Height: 6-4
Weight: 320  lbs.
Exp.: 2 Years 
School: Minnesota 
How Acquired: D2-23

Though the O-Line struggled, Schmitz was not necessarily the cause of most of the issues, at least in the beginning. However, as the long season unfolded, Schmitz’s technique and mental approach began to fade.

He began losing more snaps than he won. Injuries–he dealt with a shoulder issue that cost him three games and then a shin injury at the end–didn’t help, nor did the fact that he had a different set of guards on either side of him every other week, at least in the beginning.

Schmitz finished with a 96.2 pass-blocking efficiency rating from Pro Football Focus, who charged him with having allowed 30 pressures and five sacks. The 30 pressures allowed were tied for seventh-most among centers who took at least 50 percent of their team’s pass-blocking snaps last season.

Still, when healthy, Schmitz’s game lacked ideal power, something that will no doubt be fixed now that he’s spent a full off-season in an NFL strength and conditioning program. There were also some mobility issues, something that, again, off-season attention to strength and flexibility should help to fix.  

Schitz is in Year 2 of his four-year rookie deal worth $6.373 million and has $3.424 million in guaranteed money, including his $1.635 million signing bonus.. Schmitz’s guaranteed money ends after this season, and he’ll be eligible to negotiate a new contract following his third NFL campaign.

Schmitz is not expected to be cut, but if he were for some reason to be cut, the Giants would take on a $1.448 million dead money hit this year and $817,576 next year. There would be no savings in cutting Schmitz this year.  ,  

Schmitz, a cerebral center,  is locked in as the team’s starting center, but he has to be more consistent than he was in his rookie campaign.

When asked what he was specifically looking to improve, Schmitz pointed to his footwork, which confirmed our analysis of his mobility issues from his rookie season.

“A lot of it was my footwork and that second-level blocking for me, maintaining blocks,” he said.  

Having a consistent pair of guards on either side of him should help with communication, something Schmitz said was key to understanding “how to play with one another.” He’s projected to have veterans Jermaine Eluemunor and Jon Runyan, Jr as the guards, which is also a plus. 

“They help me out,” Schmitz said earlier this spring. “They help me understand certain situations, what to be aware of, what they’re seeing on film. It can be a different view of what I’m seeing because they’ve had more experience.”

Schmitz also desires to be a better leader. Last year, he struggled to do so because he was still learning the ropes at the NFL level. But this year, he feels more confident about fulfilling that goal.

“I think the biggest thing for me when times are tough, you really know who a true leader is,” he said. “All the guys look to someone, and I want to be that for our room and take charge.”

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