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Evan Neal Giants

Is There Any Reason To Be Worried About Evan Neal?

  • Justin Melo
  • September 28, 2022
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The previously undefeated New York Giants were welcomed back to reality following their Monday night primetime defeat to the Dallas Cowboys. Losing to their arch-rival Cowboys always welcomes an abundance of criticism surrounding the Giants’ performance. Rookie offensive tackle Evan Neal has come under scrutiny. It was a welcome to the NFL showing for Neal, who allowed three sacks to Cowboys EDGE DeMarcus Lawrence in just a little over a half of play against him (Lawrence left with an injury in the third quarter). Neal was also whistled for a pre-snap penalty on the Giants’ final offensive drive. 

Overreacting to Neal’s early-season struggles would be premature. The situation is worth monitoring throughout the rest of the campaign, but Neal’s arrow is still pointing upward.

It’s worth acknowledging Neal wasn’t the Giants’ lone offensive lineman to struggle Monday. Dallas’ fierce defensive front racked up five total sacks and 12 quarterback hits on Giants quarterback Daniel Jones. The Cowboys’ defense generated their most quarterback pressures since 2017, per ESPN Stats & Info. Jones was pressured a total of 24 times Monday. It’s the most by a quarterback this season and the second-most over the previous two campaigns. Jones also scrambled for positive yardage before taking additional hits on several other plays. Neal wasn’t the only one culpable.

Through three contests, Neal has now allowed 10 pressures, four sacks, and has been called for one penalty. The former Alabama standout owns a dreadful pass block grade of 48.5 from Pro Football Focus. Neal has faced a pass-rushing gauntlet that includes Lawrence, Micah Parsons, Brian Burns, and Bud Dupree. The schedule doesn’t exactly lighten up. Neal may square off with the likes of Robert Quinn and Rashan Gary in Weeks 4 and 5. Such is life in the NFL, where most teams roster high-end pass rushers. Neal may experience ongoing struggles as he continues to receive a baptism by fire throughout his first season. It doesn’t mean the Giants should panic.

The Giants can look inward for reasons why they should continue preaching patience with Neal’s development. It wasn’t long ago we were holding similar discussions regarding Giants left tackle Andrew Thomas. Thomas was dreadful throughout his rookie campaign (2020), allowing a league-high 10 sacks and 57 pressures, per PFF. Thomas has developed into a high-quality left tackle since then. Thomas was significantly more consistent in 2021 and has been excellent to start 2022, allowing just six pressures. Thomas has yet to give up a sack. He hasn’t even been called for a penalty. There’s no reason Neal can’t follow a similar path.

The No. 7 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, Neal is blessed with rare size and movement abilities. Neal’s quickness and overall blend of dominant traits will allow him to showcase the desired improvement. Confidence and better results will eventually arrive.

A new Giants regime consisting of general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll decided to prioritize improving an offensive line that has been a turnstile of disappointment for several consecutive campaigns. Revamping their trench play was a wise building block as Schoen continues to overhaul his roster. Possessing bookends in Thomas and Neal will pay dividends in 2023 and beyond.

Rookie offensive tackles who are thrown into the fire as Neal has been often go through an acclimation process. Neal is currently experiencing typical growing pains. The Giants rightfully remain high on Neal’s outlook. Panic isn’t necessary. Neal will be fine.

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Justin Melo