Giants' Andrew Thomas: Right or left tackle in his rookie season?

Andrew Thomas' NFL draft profile (0:52)

Check out highlights from former Georgia offensive lineman Andrew Thomas as he goes to work in the trenches. (0:52)

Andrew Thomas hasn't played right tackle since he was a freshman at the University of Georgia. The last time Nate Solder was a regular at right tackle, the New York Giants were in Super Bowl XLVI, now almost nine years removed from their glory. Solder was a rookie for the New England Patriots in the final game of that 2011 season. He has been a left tackle ever since.

But somebody is going to have to play right tackle for the Giants this season.

Thomas, the No. 4 overall pick in this year's NFL draft, and Solder are the Giants' leading candidates. Veteran swing tackle Cam Fleming is another option. Fleming is the free-agent acquisition who was signed earlier this year as a potential starting option, before the Giants added Thomas and third-round tackle Matt Peart in the draft.

The virtual offseason, because of the coronavirus pandemic, didn't do the Giants' coaching staff any favors. They weren't able to sort out their line this spring, and still haven't seen Thomas on the field. Nobody has, although he was considered the most pro-ready of the draft's linemen.

"Look, until we get on the grass, you really can't evaluate a football player. You just can't do it," Giants coach Joe Judge said earlier this offseason.

It's true. The Giants still don't know whether they're better off with Solder at left tackle and Thomas on the right, or Thomas at left tackle and Solder or someone else on the right.

Despite the side, what is an almost certain is Thomas' NFL career will start with a starting spot somewhere.

The plan remains to try Thomas and Solder on both sides in an open competition this summer. Judge, offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and offensive line coach Marc Colombo will see how it sorts out from there.

It makes for an interesting decision. Thomas is the left tackle of the future, but it might be in the best interest of the team for him to begin his career on the right side. Solder might be the team's best left tackle option over a rookie who wasn't afforded the luxury of a normal spring. Thomas also might be the better right tackle option considering it has seemingly been forever since Solder played that position.

The uncertainty is a result of Solder's struggles. The former Patriot signed a four-year, $62 million deal with the Giants in 2018, which at the time made him the NFL's highest-paid offensive lineman.

But Solder, 32, hasn't lived up to the expectations, especially last season. Pro Football Focus had him responsible for 11 sacks, third-most in the NFL. Solder finished with an 86.9 pass block win rate, ranking him 129th of the 171 offensive linemen who qualified.

Still, a move to the other side of the line might not be the answer.

"I would not do that," former NFL offensive lineman and current analyst Geoff Schwartz told ESPN. "Solder has ingrained patterns at left tackle now that will be hard to break at the age he is in the NFL. He's over 30 now. It's going to be harder to say, 'Hey, go play the other side.' There are very few instances I can remember where a player was asked to switch sides at past 30 years old. You saw Donald Penn do that with the Raiders and he tore his Achilles because his body is not used to being on that side and doing those movements."

Schwartz has firsthand experience. He switched sides later in his pro career, playing right tackle and right guard almost exclusively before being asked to play left guard in 2015 with the Giants.

Schwartz insists playing in an unfamiliar spot contributed to the broken leg that ultimately ended his career. He didn't think he had a good feel for his surroundings and couldn't anticipate the incoming pile that shattered his leg.

This is just part of the risk he believes comes with flipping sides.

"For me, I'd been on the right side so long," Schwartz said. "I'd went 9 to 10 years college and pro playing on the right side, whether at right guard or right tackle. Everything is just different. Your stance is different. More, it's about how your hand placement feels out of sorts. Your stance feels weird. You don't really know where your aiming points should be on certain plays. You're backwards."

Schwartz said the flipping of sides worked for former Green Bay Packers linemen Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang, but that was early in both of their careers. Schwartz pointed out it doesn't happen frequently for older linemen, and was adamant it was a move better suited for the younger guy ... in this case, Thomas.

Thomas, 21, has been working out in Georgia this spring, and his training routine includes working on both sides.

"Pretty easy for him," a source with knowledge of Thomas' training said.

That's a good thing because Thomas' position this season seems contingent on how this summer plays out.