The New York Giants are depending on second-year RT Evan Neal to take a huge leap in 2023. As a rookie last season, Neal struggled to find his footing in the NFL. However, it is far too soon to Neal off as a bust; a lesson the Giants learned recently with LT Andrew Thomas.
Thomas is another player who struggled to adjust to playing offensive tackle in the NFL as a rookie. But since his disappointing 2020 rookie campaign, Thomas has blossomed into one of the best offensive tackles in the league. Big Blue is hoping for a similar career trajectory from Neal, the seventh overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Evan Neal has been learning from Andrew Thomas
Neal has been soaking up as much as he can from his teammate Thomas as he prepares to take a huge leap this season. Thomas has been serving as a mentor to Neal and the rest of New York’s offensive linemen as they consistently ask him questions, utilizing the second-team All-Pro as a resource.
“I’m in Andrew’s ear all the time, just talking ball, just chopping it up. He’s a great resource to have in the room, for sure. I am thankful for him. I feel like all the guys in the room are thankful for having AT.”Evan Neal on Andrew Thomas’ mentorship via Giants.com
The Giants will be hoping to see a bit of Thomas rub off on Neal as he embarks on his second season in the NFL.
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Neal looks sharp in Giants’ second preseason game
After missing the team’s first preseason game with a concussion, Neal took the start at right tackle in Week 2 against the Carolina Panthers. The 6-foot-7 offensive tackle looked sharp in his first preseason game of the year. Despite surrendering a sack in the contest, Neal’s first night back was considered to be a success. Playing 34 total snaps in the game, Neal surrendered just one sack and one pressure across 28 pass-blocking snaps for a 73.8 overall Pro Football Focus grade.
Neal said he felt “extremely comfortable” in his 2023 preseason debut. “Nothing was perfect for sure, but just getting out of my stance, being good with my hands, being a lot more balanced, I feel like I got that done, but I’ve got to watch the film to actually see.”
If Neal can maintain this level of play throughout the 2023 season, the Giants’ offense could become a well-oiled machine.