Near midnight on Friday, UConn offensive tackle Matt Peart got to live out every kid’s dream: getting picked to his favorite team in the NFL Draft. Peart became the 40th player in school history to be selected in the draft, picked 99th overall to the New York Giants.
“Growing up in New York, having the opportunity to put on the blue has always been a dream of mine,” Peart said. “When I got the call, it was definitely a big surreal feeling.”
Originally from Jamaica, Peart fell in love with the Giants soon after moving to the Bronx at a young age.
“We interviewed him a number of times, he’s a great kid, he’s athletic and he’s long, we just think he has a lot of upside,” Giants general manager Dave Gettleman said. “He’s a guy that the coaching staff really wanted to work with.”
Peart was a building block in the Giants’ plan to use this draft to to fix their offensive line “once and for all,” according to Gettleman, along with Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, who was selected 4th overall.
With the Giants expected to move on from long-time offensive tackle Nate Solder in the offseason, Thomas will be expected to start right away. This isn’t the case for Peart, but Gettleman went on to praise his value as a prospect with upside at that spot on the board, and expects him to compete with the backup tackles, which presently include four players, all presently in their first three years in the league.
Giants head coach Joe Judge welcomed Peart as a long term project to rebuild the offensive line, and believes that his best football is ahead of him.
“This guy’s got tremendous upside. His athleticism, his physical build and then his character and work ethic,” Judge said. “You put those things together and he’s a guy you really want to work with.”
Peart said that a Giants strength coach had reached out to him prior to the draft and gave him a program to help him prepare for minicamps and OTAs.
“He definitely has a lot of upside, I don’t want to say he’s developmental, but he’s developing,” Judge said. “He’s got a tremendous work ethic and a great attitude.”
After his brother helped him build a gym in the basement, including a squat rack, Peart will go right to work.
ESPN echoed the Giants’ brass in their draft analysis, praising the pick:
Keep pounding the offensive line. That is what is happening in this NFL draft with Gettleman and the Giants. Can you blame them? Peart was considered the best value.He is the Giants’ second tackle selected in their first three picks, and a center is still likely on the horizon. Peart is a developmental offensive tackle with tremendous length. His 36⅝-inch arms were the longest of all linemen at the NFL combine. It’s worth a shot with him. Gettleman had to fix this O-line and Peart has talent. The prototypical “upside” prospect.
Analytics-focused Pro Football Focus didn’t have grades to offer, but did give solid analysis of Peart as a third-round project.
Peart has the size and length that you want at the tackle position with a history of strong play in pass protection. He had grades of 75.0 or higher as a protector in all four seasons as a starter for Connecticut. The next step at the NFL level is to add some strength, something he can do as he doesn’t project to step in and start right away for New York.
Readers of Giants SB Nation blog Big Blue View had a mildly positive reaction to the pick: 18% of readers on the site gave the pick an “A” grade, 49% a “B” grade, and 34% a “C” or lower.
Peart will likely be the only UConn player selected this year, and potentially the only Husky joining an NFL roster this offseason.