Giants’ Evan Neal running out of time to prove his worth

nfl: new york giants at san francisco 49ers, evan neal
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants need any sense of life from young right tackle Evan Neal as they approach the end of the 2023 regular season. The Giants’ playoff hopes are left in the hands of destiny, with a less than 5% chance they can sneak into the Wild Card.

While they are on a three-game winning streak, enough damage was done earlier in the season to limit their upside and postseason aspirations significantly.

All eyes are on the future and the development of undrafted rookie quarterback Tommy DeVito. At this point, DeVito isn’t considered a long-term solution, especially if the Giants can land a star quarterback like Jayden Daniels out of LSU in next year‘s draft.

However, we’ve seen enough from DeVito to consider him a high-level backup with upside, but with the return of TE Darren Waller, the passing game may take another step forward. Who’s to say that DeVito can’t continue growing and take complete control of an offense that struggled to produce points earlier in the year?

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The Giants Are Riding The Momentum

At this point, the Giants are riding high and want to see where this momentum can take them. However, evaluating some of their young talent remains a priority, which is why Neal remaining out with an ankle injury is difficult to stomach. At 23 years old, Neal has struggled over the first two years of his NFL career, giving up 10 sacks and 82 total pressures over 1,322 snaps. This season, he’s given up 30 pressures, including two sacks and five penalties over 460 snaps.

While it is not out of the realm of possibility that Neal will take a big step forward in 2024 and find his footing, it is also fair to be skeptical of that reality. The Giants need to bring in a competition to push him further, if not replace him outright. Neal recently indicated he doesn’t want to change positions, but the Giants can’t survive with a gaping hole at the right tackle position, especially if they draft the new quarterback.

Neal was labeled as doubtful for Sunday afternoon’s game against the New Orleans Saints, meaning backup Tyre Phillips will get the start once again. Phillips has been adequate but is a better reserve than a starter. If Neal can’t put together a decent sample size of progress, the Giants will never be able to commit long-term to him at an important position. Returning for Week 16 and playing the final three weeks of the year should be the goal, at least showcasing some sort of spark that Big Blue can lean on going into the off-season.