Evan Neal has not been what the New York Giants expected him to be when they drafted him with the seventh-overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Since entering the NFL Neal has failed to perform at a high standard and has struggled to stay on the field as he’s been hampered by injuries for two seasons straight.
This season, Neal has once again been disappointing and has subsequently lost his stronghold over the starting right tackle position. During the 2024 off-season, the Giants will need to make a decision on Neal’s future with the team. If they decide to move on from the 23-year-old tackle, there are a few options they have to replace him.
First-round offensive tackle prospects
The first round of the 2024 NFL Draft class is headlined by two offensive tackle prospects: Penn State’s Olu Fashanu and Notre Dame’s Joe Alt.
Both tackles are projected top-10 picks in the class. If the Giants decide to stick with Daniel Jones as their franchise quarterback, drafting a tackle could be the primary focus in the first round.
Fashanu has been described as a “dominant pass-protecting offensive tackle.” He’s a 6-foot-6, 325-pound mauler who has not surrendered a single sack in his collegiate career, per Pro Football Focus. Fashanu, however, is a left tackle, so he would need to make the same transition to the right side that impeded Neal’s ability to develop in the pros.
Alt is also a left tackle, having held down the blindside for Notre Dame for the past two seasons. He’s posted a 91.2 overall PFF grade this season and has allowed just one sack on over 700 snaps. This 6-foot-7, 280-pound lineman could be just what Big Blue needs upfront.
Could the Giants sign a new right tackle?
If the Giants decide to address a different position in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, they could opt to sign a new right tackle in free agency. However, it will be slim pickings on the open market.
PFF recently listed the projected top-10 free agent offensive tackles for the upcoming offseason:
- Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys
- Trent Brown, New England Patriots
- Michael Onwenu, New England Patriots
- Mekhi Becton, New York Jets
- Jonah Williams, Cincinnati Bengals
- Austin Jackson, Miami Dolphins
- Donovan Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
- Jermaine Eluemunor, Las Vegas Raiders
- George Fant, Houston Texans
- Josh Jones, Houston Texans
Within this group are a few veterans that are unlikely to leave their respective teams, many left tackles, and a few right tackles worth considering, although, they each come with their own risks.
Trent Brown would be the plug-and-play veteran right tackle. However, he is 30 years old and has dealt with injuries in recent seasons. Josh Jones is a 26-year-old offensive tackle who could cash in on an impressive 2023 season, but he primarily played left guard for the Texans this season.
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Jonah Williams is a starting right tackle that Big Blue could target. However, considering the scarcity of right tackles in this market, whoever the Giants target will come at a high price tag.
The Giants will need to add depth and talent to their offensive line one way or another this offseason. It may behoove them to spend on a veteran tackle to plug in the starting lineup this offseason, but it would also be wise for them to continue taking chances on developmental prospects as well.
As for Neal, he could compete for the starting gig in training camp or make a move to the interior and try his hand at left or right guard — two positions the Giants could afford to upgrade.