The New York Giants are hoping to build on the success they found in 2022. Entering 2023, there are a few players that could change the course of the season depending on how they perform. Some of the Giants’ key performers are entering the year with a lot to prove.
1. Evan Neal needs to avoid the “bust label”
Evan Neal’s rookie season was pitiful. The seventh overall pick in last year’s draft gave up 39 pressures and seven sacks in 2022. As Neal enters his sophomore season, he has a lot to prove to fans that feel underwhelmed by the former top-ten pick’s rookie performance.
Neal has worked tirelessly this offseason to prepare for the upcoming 2023 season. His new pass-protection stance should leave him less “bunched up” and provide him with improved fluidity in his pass sets.
Expectations will always be high for Neal due to his high draft selection. But if the former Alabama tackle doesn’t turn things around in year two, it will not be long before fans start labeling him a “bust.” Neal needs to prove that his rookie season woes were just growing pains and that the elite talent that the Giants drafted will soon prevail.
2. Adoree’ Jackson and the path to securing a contract extension with the Giants
Adoree’ Jackson has been the Giants’ best cornerback for the past couple of seasons; however, the veteran defensive back has struggled to stay healthy during his time in New York. Jackson has missed 11 games with injuries in the past two seasons.
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Entering 2023, Jackson needs to prove that he can stay healthy and be a reliable option for the team long-term. Jackson’s contract expires following the 2023 season and the Giants have shown little interest in extending him prior to the 2024 offseason.
If Jackson wants to earn a second contract with Big Blue, he will need to put together an impressive 2023 campaign and stay healthy. The Giants selected cornerback Deonte Banks in the first round of this year’s draft. Banks could succeed Jackson as the team’s No. 1 cornerback if Jackson is unable to prove himself this season.
3. Azeez Ojulari needs to establish consistency in year three
After a promising rookie season in 2021, Azeez Ojulari’s sophomore campaign was underwhelming. Ojulari was hampered by injuries throughout the 2022 season. He played in only seven games but was wildly productive in that time span.
Ojulari totaled seven quarterback hits, 5.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles in only seven games this season. It is clear that Ojulari has the potential to be a dominant force for New York. But he will need to stay healthy and prove that he can replicate that productivity for a full season in 2023.