Giants: 3 players who could have a breakout 2023 season

new york giants, azeez ojulari
Aug 21, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants linebacker Azeez Ojulari (51) warms up prior to the preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are coming off their most successful season since 2016, clinching a playoff berth and also securing their first playoff win since the team’s magical 2011-12, Super Bowl-winning season. Boasting a roster full of young talent, the Giants have a few potential breakout candidates for the 2023 season.

The Giants need Evan Neal to stabilize their offensive line

It was a disappointing rookie campaign for RT Evan Neal. Taken seventh overall by the Giants in the 2022 NFL Draft, expectations were high for Neal. Unfortunately for both Neal and the Giants, those expectations were not met in year one.

Neal posted a putrid PFF grade of just 44.1 as a rookie, while also accumulating 7 penalties and allowing 7 sacks. A beacon of hope for the 22-year-old comes in the form of LT Andrew Thomas.

Like Neal, Thomas also struggled mightily as a rookie in 2020, posting a PFF grade of just 62.4, while allowing 10 sacks. From there, Thomas improved drastically, and just this past season accumulated a PFF grade of 89.1, while only allowing 3 sacks and just 2 penalties, firmly establishing himself as one of the premier offensive tackles in the NFL.

After a rookie season full of adversity, it can only get better for Neal, and if history repeats itself, Neal could be in line for a much improved second season in the NFL.

A dynamic pass-rushing duo emerging

Part of a stacked defensive line that includes the likes of Kayvon Thibodeaux and Dexter Lawerence, Azeez Ojulari fits right in the mix as one of Big Blue’s premier talents. Despite playing in only seven games in 2022 due to injury, Ojulari was a one-man wrecking crew, forcing 3 fumbles and accumulating 5.5 sacks, a figure that was second on the team behind Dexter Lawerence’s 7.5.

Ojulari was on pace for a monster, 13.5 sack season if he stayed healthy. This offseason, Ojulari has made a more focused effort in the 2023 preseason to prevent future injuries, focusing on more yoga and stretching to keep him on the field. Despite the short sample size in 2022, Ojulari showed what he is capable of, putting him in line for a potential monster 2023 campaign, with double-digit sack totals very much in play for the 23-year-old.

A rising star in the secondary

The 24-year-old Pinnock was a free agency pickup from Big Blue in 2022 after appearing in 12 games for the New York Jets in 2021. In an increased role in Wink Martindale’s defense, Pinnock’s numbers improved across the board, accumulating 34 solo tackles and 4 QB hits.

Pinnock made his mark this preseason, earning himself a starting safety spot alongside Xavier McKinney. His preseason was highlighted by an impressive one-handed interception early in training camp. Being named a starter for the first time in his career, Pinnock is in line for a breakout season in 2023.

The Giants will be aiming to take a step forward after a successful 2022 campaign, opening up their season on September 10th against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football, kickoff is scheduled for 8:20 pm EST. If these three breakout candidates can turn in solid Week 1 performances, Big Blue’s season will end up on the right track.

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