The New York Giants drafted RT Evan Neal with the seventh overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Neal struggled to put it all together, surrendering 39 pressures and seven sacks on the year. Heading into his sophomore season, however, Neal has made some big adjustments to his game and looks primed for a breakout year in 2023.
Giants RT Evan Neal could have a breakout sophomore season
Neal stands in at 6-foot-7, 360-pounds, possessing the stature to impose his will on opposing defensive linemen. Combining his size and strength with good technical ability will be the key to success in 2023.
This offseason, Neal has been working on his technique, training with former All-Pro OL Willie Anderson. Specifically, Anderson has had Neal focus on his pre-snap stance:
According to ESPN, Neal’s pass block win rate of 81.1% last season ranked him 58 out of 64 qualifying tackles. Anderson identified Neal’s stance as the cause for his pass-protection struggles.
“I first saw his stance and I said, ‘That stance can’t be comfortable going against certain kinds of rushers,’” Anderson said per Jordan Raanan of ESPN. “I asked him if he had a problem with these kinds of rushers, and he said, ‘Yes!’”
Thus, Anderson worked with Neal, tweaking his stance, and introducing him to a new way to play in his sophomore season. “The great ones bust their ass to figure it out,” Anderson said. “…That’s what Evan has a chance to be. You’ve got a chance to be [a] top duo. Two elite freaking tackles right there. He has the ability. Just give him time and patience to figure out that side of the ball.”
Neal is a top “under-the-radar” player, per CBS Sports
Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports recently listed Neal as a top “under-the-radar” player entering 2023. “With a year under his belt, Neal has an opportunity to take the Giants to the next level,” Kerr writes. “A good sophomore season could get the Giants back to the divisional round of the playoffs, providing excellent expectations for the offensive line going forward.”
Confidence surrounds Neal as he enters year two with Big Blue. If the adjustments he made with Anderson pay off, then New York could have an elite tackles duo on their line with Neal playing opposite of 2022 second-team All-Pro Andrew Thomas.