He’s been called out by his general manager, but Evan Neal insists he does “a lot of dominant things on the football field.” The right tackle has floundered since being selected seventh overall in the 2022 NFL draft by the New York Giants, but Neal isn’t ready to switch positions.
Former Albama standout Neal sent a defiant message to his critics when asked for his reaction to Joe Schoen’s comments about improvement. Neal said “I’ve put a lot of dominant reps on tape. A lot of times they go unnoticed. A lot of times the reps that I struggle get highlighted. But if you really sit back and watch the tape, I do a lot of good things. I do a lot of dominant things on the football field,” per the New York Post’s Ryan Dunleavy.
Neal was struggling mightily during his second season, before an ankle injury sidelined him in Week 9. The 23-year-old’s issues have some believing Neal should switch to guard.
It’s not a view endorsed by the player. Neal made it clear “as soon as I stepped out of the womb, I stepped out as an offensive tackle.”
Significantly, Schoen shares the same view. The GM was asked about the possible position switch on Monday, November 27, but he downplayed the idea, per SNY.tv’s Giants Videos: “No, I don’t think so. “I went back and watched the Alabama stuff. The kid can play. We just got to get him to be more consistent.”
Schoen did add Neal knows “there are some things he can do better, and that’s what we expect from him.”
The fact the general manager is already reviewing college film to reassure himself about Neal’s talents is hardly the best sign. Nor is Schoen bluntly reminding Neal he needs to do more.
Giants Still Waiting for Evan Neal to Replicate College Form
Schoen’s first two draft picks, edge-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux and Neal, were supposed to be the linchpins of a revolution for the Giants. Thibodeaux is making the grade after a slow start, but Neal is hovering dangerously close to bust status.
He’s played 460 snaps at tackle this season, allowing 30 pressures, five quarterback hits and two sacks, per Pro Football Focus. Those numbers are barely an improvement on the seven sacks, 10 hits and 39 pressures Neal surrendered as a rookie.
It’s easy to see why people think Neal might be better suited at guard. Especially when he has trouble diagnosing pressure off the edge and often takes an inside move first.
Neal hasn’t stayed healthy. Nor has he made the strides the Giants expect. Two good reasons why Schoen could look for a replacement in this year’s draft.
Draft Reinforcements Could Undermine Evan Neal’s Status
The Giants currently own the seventh pick in the upcoming draft. There’d be more than a bit of irony if Schoen used the same selection he made to choose Neal to draft his replacement.
It’s a genuine possibility, though, given the offensive line prospects likely to be available in the top 10. They include Penn State tackle Olumuyiwa Fashanu and Notre Dame’s Joe Alt.
The latter graded higher than any other O-lineman rated by PFF College this season.
Alt has the athletic traits the Giants lack up front, but he would have to shift to the right side and still succeed. It’s a tough switch, and one Neal hasn’t mastered.
The Giants have given up 69 sacks this season, so Schoen might need to risk asking another prospect to make the transition. Even if it means admitting to a mistake with Neal.