Why Giants’ Evan Neal could take a big step forward in 2023

evan neal, new york giants

The New York Giants invested the seventh overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft in right tackle Evan Neal. After an up-and-down rookie season, there is hope for Neal to turn things around in year two. Despite his rookie-season struggles, Evan Neal could take a big step forward in 2023 with improved health and

Giants RT Evan Neal could take a big step forward in 2023

In Neal’s rookie season, he surrendered seven sacks and 39 total pressures across 13 starts in the regular season (PFF). Each week felt like a constant struggle for the rookie as he adjusted to the pro game.

Things could turn around rather quickly, though, as Neal has been working hard to retool his technique this offseason. Neal has been working closely with former NFL offensive tackle Willie Anderson to rework his technique and find a more natural stance in pass protection.

In a recent interview with the Locked On Giants podcast, Anderson seemed to indicate that much of Neal’s struggles stemmed from a change in position. During his final season at Alabama, Neal started as the team’s left tackle. He immediately transitioned to the right side of the line with the Giants.

“I just think people underestimate going from left tackle, right tackle, or going from right to left,” Anderson said on Locked on Giants. “When you’re at left tackle for a long time, your dominant leg is your right inside leg. So that part of your brain is telling you, ‘Push off my right leg,’ so that that leg becomes stronger. But now you change over to your left if you’re at right tackle.”

Now that Neal has a full season playing right tackle in the NFL under his belt, there is hope that he can turn things around in his sophomore season. Giants fans are hoping Neal takes a second-year step similar to that of All-Pro left tackle Andrew Thomas.

Thomas also struggled immensely as a rookie back in 2020. Many were quick to label Thomas a “bust” following his rookie season. Fast forward to 2023 and Thomas is a second-team AP All-Pro.

While it may be unrealistic to assume that Neal will reach the same levels that Thomas has reached, the Giants’ right tackle is still likely to show signs of improvement in 2023.

For much of the 2022 season, Neal was playing through a knee injury suffered in Week 7. Going into 2023, Neal should be healthier and playing with the new, refined techniques taught to him by a former All-Pro offensive tackle. This should propel the New York Giants’ right tackle to turn things around in year two.

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