New York Giants: Evan Neal looks better than ever in return from injury

evan neal, new york giants
Aug 21, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants offensive lineman Evan Neal (73) says a pregame prayer before the preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants made a bold move to bolster their offensive line this offseason, selecting right tackle Evan Neal with the seventh overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. To begin the year, the big rookie out of Alabama struggled to find his footing. Neal surrendered 4 sacks and 10 pressures in his first three games of the season before eventually being knocked out of the lineup with an MCL injury in Week 7. Evan Neal finally made his long-awaited return to the lineup in Week 13 for the Giants against the Commanders. In this tough divisional matchup, Evan Neal looked better than ever and generated excitement for what he can provide over the final month of the season.

Evan Neal looking better than ever in Week 13

Despite coming away with a disappointing tie in Week 13, the New York Giants can pull away some positive results from their rookie draft class. Fifth overall pick Kayvon Thibodeaux made a massive impact and seems to be hitting his stride, grabbing the headlines as Big Blue’s standout rookie. But Evan Neal also turned in arguably his best performance of the season and seems to be hitting his stride in his returns from a knee injury.

In Week 13, Evan Neal was on the field for 66 offensive snaps. 41 of those were pass-blocking snaps. On 38 opportunities, Evan Neal did not surrender a single pressure nor a single sack. This is the first time Neal has turned in a clean sheet as a pass protector since Week 4 against Chicago when the Giants only pass-blocked on 21 total snaps (PFF).

Giants rookie right tackle Evan Neal played all game and held up relatively well against an imposing defensive front. Neal allowed a pressure rate of just 2.9% in one of his best outings of the year.

PFF on Evan Neal’s performance in Week 13

Evan Neal is back from his injury and playing his best football just in time for the home stretch of the 2022 season. Big Blue is looking for some big wins down the stretch to keep the hopes alive for their first playoff berth since the 2016 season. The Giants have struggled to keep Daniel Jones upright in recent weeks, but Evan Neal’s improved play will go along way in helping the offense find its footing.

The Giants are preparing for their toughest matchup of the season in Week 14. New York will host the Philadelphia this Sunday with the hopes of upsetting the 10-1 Eagles and getting back on track after winning only one of their last four games. This will be the team’s most difficult challenge yet. The Giants will need another big performance out of Evan Neal in this one as he will face off against the Eagles’ fearsom front that includes the likes of Brandon Graham (5.5 sacks) and Haason Reddick (9 sacks).

Evan Neal is finally living up to the hype of his top-ten draft bill. As is the case with most rookie offensive tackles, Neal had some growing pains to begin the year. But he seems to finally be putting things together, playing his best football after returning from injury. If Evan Neal can continue to develop this season, the New York Giants’ duo of Neal and Andrew Thomas should be enough to let Daniel Jones operate as he tries to lead Big Blue back to the postseason.