The Giants’ offensive line faces crucial challenge in 2023

evan neal, new york giants

The New York Giants once again had a bottom-ranked offensive line in 2022 (per PFF). Despite making improvements, the Giants have struggled to assemble a serviceable front five to protect quarterback Daniel Jones.

They ranked 24th in pass blocking and 14th in run blocking, suggesting they did experience some success in one category, at least. However, the Giants urgently need better pass protection. General manager Joe Schoen has invested heavily since taking over in 2022, drafting Evan Neal at right tackle to serve as the team’s long-term solution and signing Mark Glowinski to fill the right guard spot.

Ultimately, the first year in a new scheme can produce inconsistent results. Neal struggled considerably as a rookie, and Glowinski improved as the season progressed but ultimately had his fair share of ups and downs.

The general perception of the Giants’ OL is that they lacked legitimate starting talent, but that narrative is beginning to shift with experience and premium draft capital being spent at the position.

Projected starting Giants offensive line:

LT: Andrew Thomas

Thomas is one of the best left tackles in football and is ready to receive a massive extension. He allowed four sacks with 23 overall pressures across a career-high 1,173 snaps last year. Between Weeks 12 and 14, he gave up three consecutive sacks but was otherwise stellar. Thomas is the linchpin of the entire unit and ultimately provides the Giants with some quality in the trenches.

LG: Ben Bredeson

The left guard position has been up for grabs for the past few seasons, making it a crucial element for the team’s success. For now, the projected starter is Ben Bredesen, a former fourth-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens back in 2020.

Bredeson gave up 12 pressures across 621 snaps, not allowing a sack over that sample size. He had a few solid games but did struggle from time to time. Bredeson also dealt with an injury last season, which hampered his growth and development in the Giants’ new offensive scheme. I wouldn’t be surprised if second-year player Josh Ezeudu made a run at the starting job, but a neck injury derailed his growth as a rookie, so the Giants are still giving him plenty of time to continue his development.

C: John Michael Schmitz

Big Blue recognized that the center was a position of need, drafting John Michael Schmitz out of Minnesota to smooth over the quarterback of the offensive line. Michael Schmitz may not be an elite athlete, but he is a phenomenal communicator with a tremendous football IQ. He will be a dominant zone run-blocker to start his career but needs some time to refine his pass protection.

However, it is nice to know that JMS will recognize stunts and more creative blitz packages that opposing defenses send their way. This is the type of player that will gradually improve and eventually become an above-average starter.

RG: Mark Glowinski

The Giants desperately needed to address the right guard position when Schoen took over two years ago. With minimal salary space to work with, he signed Mark Glowinski to a three-year deal with a max base salary of $20 million.

Glowinski was inconsistent for Big Blue in 2022, giving up five sacks and 37 total pressures. However, he didn’t give up a sack over the last six games of the season and posted tremendous grades over the last three games. At the very least, he’s a good run blocker that contains plenty of power. His second year in Mike Kafka’s scheme should produce better results in pass protection.

RT: Evan Neal

The most crucial element for the Giants is the right tackle position, an area in which they struggled significantly last year. Rookie Evan Neal experienced an MCL injury in Week 7 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, resulting in a dreadful second half of the season. His rookie numbers across the first seven weeks were not impressive by any means, but he did have a few standout individual games.

Neal finished the campaign yielding eight sacks, 52 total pressures, and seven penalties. His lack of flexibility and agility on the edge rendered him a liability against speed rushers with excellent bend. Neal has been refining his fundamentals and adjusting his first step to provide more leverage and improved reactions to pass-rush moves.

The truth is, the Giants’ success on offense may hinge on Neal and his performance in 2023. At the very least, it would be challenging to have a worse season than his rookie campaign, especially if he can maintain his health.

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