The Giants desperately need a breakout season from former 7th overall pick

Sep 21, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) attempts to run past New York Giants offensive tackle Evan Neal (73) in the second quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants have significantly bolstered their offensive line this season by acquiring Jon Runyan with a three-year, $30 million deal and Jermaine Eluemunor with a two-year, $14 million deal. Runyan is set to fill the crucial starting left guard position, while Eluemunor is poised to secure his spot at right tackle. However, the Giants are also hoping for a breakout season from Evan Neal, their seventh overall pick from 2022.

Challenges for Evan Neal

Despite the high hopes, Neal’s performance has been less than stellar. His 2023 season ended with foot surgery, an issue from which he is still recovering. This could significantly hinder his development. Under the guidance of new offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo, there’s an urgent need for Neal to enhance his fundamentals and technique.

New York Giants offensive tackle Evan Neal (73) blocks San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) during the fourth quarter at Levi's Stadium

As of now, Neal is still on the path to recovery, and the Giants must patiently wait for him to be ready to compete, hopefully during the upcoming training camp. It seems that Eluemunor’s position is secure, particularly as he cross-trains at left guard to prepare for any potential injuries he might need to cover next season.

The Giants Have Big Decisions to Make

In his tenure over the past two years, Neal has conceded 10 sacks and 81 total pressures, alongside accruing 12 penalties. His rookie year saw him play 862 snaps, with performances ranging from decent to volatile. However, he was expected to progress; instead, Neal regressed in 2023, playing only 460 offensive snaps and allowing 29 pressures and two sacks. With injuries affecting both ankles, his role as the primary starter is in jeopardy unless he delivers an impressive performance in the summer and preseason.

The Rise of Jermaine Eluemunor

On the other hand, Eluemunor showed promising skills as a right tackle last year with the Las Vegas Raiders. He allowed 28 pressures and six sacks across 905 snaps.

Jermaine Eluemunor, Giants
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Notably, most of Eluemunor’s negative stats were concentrated in two games against Pittsburgh and the Los Angeles Chargers in weeks 3 and 4, where he surrendered 11 pressures and five sacks. Excluding these outliers, his performance for the rest of the season was solid, with only one sack and 16 pressures allowed. Given his superior performance, the Giants have every reason to start him at right tackle.

Future Considerations

If Neal does not show improvement at right tackle, he might need to start training at guard. While this may not be his preferred position, his lackluster performances might necessitate such a change. The Giants need to maximize the value from their top-10 draft pick and cannot afford to continue misfitting a player into an unsuitable role.

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