Giants: One position that could change the dynamic of the team in 2023

nfl: indianapolis colts at new york giants, evan neal
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

For the New York Giants, the offensive line carries monumental significance as they march into the 2023 NFL season. While they’ve drafted promising center John Michael-Schmitz, eyes are locked onto the right tackle position. Here, second-year Alabama alum Evan Neal has the spotlight and a hefty share of expectations.

Rookie Sensation Michael-Schmitz Awaits Regular Season Debut

John Michael-Schmitz has already turned heads with his preseason performances. The real test, however, awaits him in Week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys. This game will mark the official NFL initiation of the rookie center, pitting him against a formidable rival. While concerns do swirl, they’re not hovering over the center position.

Evan Neal: A Work in Progress at Right Tackle

Rather, it’s the right tackle position that has everyone talking. Evan Neal, who’s coming off a concussion, showcased his skills in a preseason game against the Carolina Panthers. During his 34 offensive snaps, he gave up just one sack and expressed a positive outlook on his performance, viewing it as a benchmark for future improvement.

“Man, it’s a good day to go out there, get my feet back under me,” Neal said after the game. “I feel like it was an overall solid day. Still got a lot of things to clean up, but solid.”

Struggles and Setbacks: Neal’s Rookie Year Recap

Drafted seventh overall in 2022, Neal had a turbulent rookie year. Just 22 years old at the time, he surrendered 39 pressures: a breakdown of seven sacks, 10 quarterback hits, and 22 hurries over 738 offensive snaps. Clearly, his fundamentals needed an overhaul. He also missed several weeks due to an MCL sprain, affecting his performance, particularly in the season’s second half.

Prepping for a Breakout Season: Off-season Refinements

Fast forward to the present, Neal is in good health and is keen on turning a new leaf. This off-season, he focused on dropping some weight and honing his reaction time.

“I felt extremely comfortable out there,” he said. “I mean, nothing was perfect, but just getting out of my stance, being good with my hands, playing a lot more balance. I felt like I got that done.”

Mirroring Andrew Thomas’s Sophomore Success

Neal aims to mirror the remarkable sophomore season of fellow lineman Andrew Thomas. If Neal can pull this off, he could become a cornerstone for the Giants, especially as quarterback Daniel Jones seeks to synergize with his new wide receiver unit.

Optimism and Challenges: The Evan Neal Factor for the Giants

Neal is currently the linchpin of the Giants’ offensive line and, by extension, their offensive scheme. His success could redefine the team’s dynamics, while struggles could set them back. However, the improved weaponry and playmaking skills on the team should divert additional pass rushers, allowing the offensive line to operate more effectively.

This upcoming season provides a ripe setting for Neal to demonstrate his progress, fundamentally alter the team’s offensive narrative, and, most importantly, solidify his role in the New York Giants’ future.

Mentioned in this article:

More about: