When the first night of the 2022 NFL draft rolls around on April 28, the New York Giants will have the luxury of selecting two premier players in the top 10, as they hold the No. 5 and No. 7 picks overall.
First-year general manager Joe Schoen has had little salary cap space to work with this offseason, but he can potentially add two impact starters with his first two picks in the draft.
Among the names that the Giants are considering with the fifth-pick is University of Alabama’s star offensive tackle Evan Neal, per NFL insider Jordan Schultz.
According to Schultz, the Giants like Neal a lot and he is a “real possibility” to be selected by the team if he is still on the board when their first turn arrives.
The Giants already have promising third-year left tackle Andrew Thomas, who took significant strides in his performance a season ago. And if they add Neal, he’d likely become their starting right tackle, which could provide long-term stability at a position that the Giants have struggled to find consistency at over the course of the past decade.
What Neal Brings
If Neal drops to the Giants at No. 5, here’s what he could bring to the table as a rookie if they decide to select him.
Per NFL.com‘s scouting report:
“Three-year starter with rare combination of measurables, talent and pedigree. Neal has experience against the best competition the college game has to offer. He has started at both left and right tackle and should project on the left side if he can continue to manage his weight. While he has flashes of greatness on tape, he doesn’t always maintain that level throughout a game. Intensity and consistency are two areas that will be key in matching performance with profile. Technique has been drilled into him and Neal plays with good fundamentals across the board. He’s well-versed and capable in a variety of run schemes and has correctable areas of improvement in pass protection. Neal will come into the league as a good NFL starter, but greatness will require additional attitude and action.”
Neal certainly holds valuable experience playing in the highly competitive SEC across three years at Alabama. He also has the versatility to play both left and right tackle. But the Giants must be confident enough that they can develop Neal into a superstar if they’re going to use a premium pick on him.
Making a Case Against him
The University of Alabama product has the perfect build for an offensive tackle in the NFL, standing at 6″7, 337 pounds. However, an NFC executive told NFL.com that he might not be the best tackle in this upcoming draft class.
“He will be a good pro but I don’t see him as being the best tackle to come out of this class. He’s getting an Alabama push from (the media), in my opinion,” the executive said.
If the Giants are targeting an offensive tackle with their first pick, there are two additional routes they could go instead of Neal. Ikem Ekwonu out of North Carolina State University or Mississippi State’s Charles Cross have also been pegged as top prospects at the position.
Time will tell regarding what the Giants decide to do on the opening night of the draft. But it sounds like they are destined to select a top prospect offensive lineman with one of their first two picks, whether it be Neal, Ekwonu, Cross, or someone else.
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