The New York Giants have high hopes for rookie tackle Evan Neal, and despite coming off a sprained MCL against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 7, he’s had a rather polarizing start to his professional career.
Over 510 offensive stats, Neal has given up 6.0 sacks, 13 quarterback hurries, and 24 total pressures. His run blocking grades have been a bit more consistent, but his pass-blocking efficiency has certainly gone through ebbs and flows.
In fact, his last three games excluding a blowout loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 14, were actually quite successful. Over 91 pass-blocking snaps, Neal had only given up two total pressures and one quarterback hit, but all of that compounded success came crashing down against Philly.
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The New York Giants stood no chance against the Eagles:
The Giants were simply outmatched on all fronts, as Neal posted a 20.2 pass-blocking grade, per PFF. He gave up one sack, two quarterback hits, five hurries, and eight total pressures, including a penalty. This was arguably his worst game as a professional, with his performance against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3 presenting strong competition. He gave up three sacks and five pressures in that contest.
While some might be concerned about the Alabama stand out, it is important to note that even star left tackle, Andrew Thomas went through a tumultuous rookie season, giving up 10 sacks before taking a significant step forward during his sophomore year.
There is no reason to make any rash conclusions regarding Neal and his performance this season, especially since he’s 22 years old and a 6′ foot seven’7″, 350 pounds super athlete. Giving him time to adjust to the increased level of competition and speed at the NFL level is only fair, but labeling him a bust is extremely premature.
As mentioned, he went through a strong stretch of three games before Philadelphia dismantled the right side of the offensive line, but the Giants have far too many issues to hyper-focus on his lone performance.
In fact, if you look to last week against the Washington Commanders, Neal didn’t give up a single pressure over 41 pass blocking snaps, showcasing his growth. The Giants will take on Washington once again in Week 15 with playoff implications, so he will be looking to bounce back and put together a far more competent outing.