Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, the Giants’ first-round pick in Thursday night’s NFL draft, blocked out some time for some Q&A with Post columnist Steve Serby.
Q: How would you describe your on-field mentality?
A: I just want to be dominant. Every time the ball snaps, whoever’s in front of me, I’m doing my best to move that guy out of the way, punish him, do what I can for my team.
Q: On your Twitter: “There’s no greater feeling in moving a man from Point A to Point B against his will.”
A: That’s somebody else’s quote, but it resonates with me, definitely.
Q: Is that an adrenaline rush?
A: It’s just almost like a domination kind of thing, like mano-a-mano, you’re going against me, I’m going against you, you know what’s happening, and for me to still come out successful, it goes back to all the hard work you put in to get there.
Q: Do you flip a switch when you put the helmet on?
A: I definitely do.
Q: Describe that transformation.
A: Off the field, I’m a laid-back guy, real chill, kind of quiet at times, I could be a little shy. But when I’m on the field, something else just turns on. When the ball snaps, I walk between those white lines, I’m just a different person. I play hard, play physical, try to be nasty, just doing everything I can to help the team win, ’cause that’s what I want to do.
Q: How much do you enjoy pancake blocks?
A: I enjoy ’em a lot, especially when a run springs and you see the running back running down the field, it means a lot to you.— you did your job to help the team. That’s the ultimate goal, you want to do what you can. Especially as an offensive lineman, as a group, you want to do your best to help the team, that’s your main job.
Q: Do you take it personally when a defensive player sacks your quarterback?
A: Definitely. I don’t want to do anything to hurt the team, and me giving up a sack, that hurts the team, so that’s definitely something I do my best to try to avoid.
Q: The most unfair criticism you heard years ago that motivated you.
A: Coming out of high school, some reporters were writing and saying that I wasn’t ready to play at Georgia. They were saying that I need to redshirt and stuff like that, that I wasn’t physical enough. For me, it was just to go back to the drawing board, just continue to work hard, and prove those people wrong.
Q: Do you still have a chip on your shoulder because of that?
A: I do. There’s always gonna be doubters, and for me, I’m just working hard every day, just do what I can to be the best I can be.
Q: How will you deal with the pressure of being the fourth-overall pick in such a big market?
A: It’s just control what I can control, try not to pay too much attention to the outside. I’m gonna have bad days, just focus on the next day. I mess up on a play, I’m just focusing on what I can do the next play. Improvement every day, that’s the main goal.
Q: Give me a scouting report on Andrew Thomas
A: I would say, in the run game, very physical at the point of attack. He has great leverage and great length with good feet, and then as an overall player, someone who plays the game really hard and has a very good football IQ.
Q: Where do you think you need to improve?
A: I’ve been working on my hands in pass (protection), just making sure my punch is a little bit more firm, that my hands are inside. And then in my kick slide, just working on keeping my post foot a little but more vertical.
Q: What do you know about Jets first-round pick, Louisville offensive tackle Mekhi Becton?
A: I don’t know much about him. I just know he went to the Jets. Very good offensive tackle.
Q: You’ll be compared with him.
A: People will definitely compare us. I don’t get too much into that. I just control what I can control, and that’s how hard I work.
Q: How devastated were you when your father, Jerome, had his stroke?
A: Yeah it did hurt. Freshman year, we’d just played Notre Dame and I got a call from my mentor, and he told me, and it hurt me. He’s doing a little bit better now, but it hurt because my dad was a very hard-working man. He was actually a carpenter … he actually built our house. All the time, he had his regular job, he would play the drums at different churches, and just seeing him not being able to do that, it hurt a lot. And then, obviously it was a little bit of struggle for my mom just to make ends meet with just her salary. It just served as motivation to continue to work so they won’t have to go through that anymore.
Q: Do you remember the first conversation you had with him after the stroke?
A: He was in the hospital, and he was just reassuring me that he was gonna be OK. He really didn’t even want me to know. He didn’t want what he had going on distract me from the season and stuff like that. I was worried. I talked to my mom a lot just to make sure he was doing OK ’cause that’s my Pops, I want him to be healthy. He has a lot to life to live, I want him to see me be successful.
Q: Describe your mom, Semone.
A: She’s ridiculous. She cares so much for everyone. She doesn’t say “no” much. A woman of faith, that’s one thing she definitely instilled in me. She’s just so strong, a lot of stuff goes on, and she stays level-headed and does what needs to be done.
Q: Describe your girlfriend, Ashley-Ann.
A: A very caring person. She cares so much about me. Very passionate about the things that she enjoys. She’s a biology major, she loves science. And then, she recently started this whole singing thing that she really wants to get into. She’s very talented, very intelligent. That’s my girl.
Q: What advice did Jay-Z give you when you spoke to him Wednesday night?
A: He said there’s gonna be a lot with the media, a lot of expectations and things like that, but he said just continue to do what got me here, staying focused, keep my head down and working hard.
Q: Are you going to be the next Jay-Z one day?
A: I don’t know, I can’t really rap (laugh). … We’ll see. But I don’t know if I’ll be Jay-Z, but I’m definitely gonna be somebody successful.
Q: What do you know about Saquon Barkley, and what’s it gonna be like blocking for him?
A: I don’t know much about him yet, I just know that he’s a very talented back. I’m just looking forward to putting in work, try to do what I can for the team.
Q: And what do you know about Daniel Jones?
A: I actually know one of his teammates [Deon Jackson] from Duke, he’s one of my best friends. He plays running back at Duke. He said [Jones is] a very great guy, very talented, so I’m looking forward to working with him.
Q: You played at Georgia with Giants cornerback Deandre Baker.
A: He’s just very talented, very fluid at the cornerback position. I remember playing with him and not see him ever give up a touchdown playing in the SEC. … He’s a competitor, I think he has what it takes to be one of the best.
Q: You also played with Giants defensive end Lorenzo Carter.
A: Lorenzo was part of the big development for me, coming in as a freshman going against an outside linebacker like that, day in, day out. It prepared me to be able to play at the SEC level. He’s very talented, very athletic, and he’s gonna be a very good player.
Q: Who is one defensive player in NFL history you would love to block to test your skills?
A: I would probably say Lawrence Taylor. I think he was one of the best to ever do it.
Q: If you could pick the brain of any left tackle in NFL history, who would it be?
A: I would probably say Orlando Pace. … Just the way he played the game. He had a lot of success obviously at Ohio State, he was great. Creating the whole like pancake thing, very dominant run blocker, and very athletic too. So just try to pick up on some of the tricks of the trade that he used to make him such a great offensive lineman for so long.
Q: Who are the tackles you like watching now?
A: I like watching [Dallas’] Tyron Smith and [Washington’s] Trent Williams.
Q: What are your personal goals?
A: The first thing is getting adjusted to a new city. The big thing for me is earning respect of my teammates — that means the most to me, when your teammates respect you, that means you’re doing everything that you’re supposed to be doing. So just working hard, keep my head down and learning from the older guys.
Q: Who are athletes in other sports you admire?
A: Growing up I liked Michael Jordan. I like LeBron [James]. I used to play baseball, I used to like CC Sabathia. When I was younger, I thought I could pitch, but I threw it too wild — I could throw fast, but not accurate.
Q: What was your favorite moment at Georgia?
A: My freshman year, the Rose Bowl, when we beat Oklahoma [54-48 in double-overtime].
Q: Who were your boyhood idols?
A: Mike Vick and Ray Lewis.
Q: Why Vick?
A: Being a black quarterback at that time, and how much success he had, and I’m from Lithonia, which is not too far from Atlanta, so it was pretty cool to watch him play. I remember having his cleats.
Q: Why Lewis?
A: Just the passion that he had for the game. I used to play linebacker so that’s what I wanted to imitate when I played linebacker, I wanted to be somebody who was physical and was very passionate about the game.
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Q: Three dinner guests?
A: Barack Obama, Martin Luther King, Muhammad Ali.
Q: Favorite movie?
Q: Favorite actor?
A: Robert Downey Jr.
Q: Favorite actress?
A: Meagan Good.
Q: Favorite singer/entertainer?
Q: Favorite meal?
A: Hot wings.
Q: What’s your record for most wings eaten in one sitting?
A: I’d probably say about 35, 40 maybe.
Q: Will you have a piano when you come north?
A: I think I will.
Q: What does playing the piano do for you?
A: Growing up in a church, all my family either sings or plays instruments, so music has always been big for me. It’s just kind of like a hobby. It’s like a resting place whenever I need to take my mind off of football or off of life. It’s just kind of soothing.
Q: Will you play the drums?
A: I’m probably not gonna have a drum set up there.
Q: Why the interest at a young age in drums?
A: My dad played. … Ever since I was about 4 years old, I was playing the drums. And then, when I started getting older, my big interest was like marching band, being in a drumline. … Drums are loud, and it takes skill to be real good at ’em.
Q: What’s it been like for you during this pandemic?
A: It’s been tough to see people being affected by this virus. My family and myself, we’ve been OK, but it’s definitely affected me. Pro day and things like that were canceled, obviously going up to the draft, those things I was looking forward to. Doing my best just to stay healthy, try to over-sanitize everything, practice social distancing and just try to stay as healthy as possible.
Q: How would you feel if there was a season with no fans?
A: It’ll be tough, because the fans motivate us — especially Giants fans, they’re so passionate — so it’ll be tough playing without ’em. But if that’s what they call for, that’s what I would do. I’m playing for my teammates and we gotta do what we gotta do.
Q: What drives you?
A: I would say first, my faith in God … just having something else to lean on that’s bigger than me to stand on. Second I would say my family. Definitely want to be able to take care of my family financially obviously, but more so representing the family name that they’ve given me, that means a lot to me. And then lastly, just myself. I’m a competitive person, I work hard, and I want to reach all my potential.
Q: From your Twitter: “The goal in life is not to look for blessings, but to be a blessing to others.”
A: With this platform that God has given me, it’s not about me. Obviously I’m blessed, but the biggest thing, the biggest goal in life, being a man of faith, is giving back to others and being a blessing to others with the blessing that I’ve gotten.
Q: Joe Judge asked you during your video conversation on Monday if you wanted to be a Giant, right?
Q: What was your answer?
Q: Why did you want to be a New York Giant?
A: It just means a lot to me. Obviously it’s a great rich history in that organization. I’m just excited to be a part of a program that has faith in me to be a good player.
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