When the NY Giants selected Evan Neal out of Alabama in the 2022 NFL Draft, many believed they solidifed both tackle positions. Neal was a highly touted prospect during his time with the Crimson Tide, starting games at left guard as well as right/left tackle in three seasons.
Things haven't gone so well in New York for Neal as they did in Alabama. While the team won their first playoff game since Super Bowl 46 last season, Neal's play was questionable to put it lightly. In 13 regular season games, Neal surrendered seven sacks and committed seven penalties as a rookie.
This year, in what was hopefully supposed to be an improvement from last season, it has been anything but that for the former No. 7 overall pick. With him being doubtful to take on the Saints too, it only makes the 2023 campaign that much worse for him.
Giants should try moving Evan Neal to guard amidst lingering injury
Neal has played in just seven contests this year, having not played a snap since the team's 30-6 loss against the Raiders in Week 9 due to an ankle injury. In Neal's seven games in 2023, he's allowed two sacks and committed five penalties. Things got quite ugly earlier in the season, as Neal blasted fans for booing when the team was doing bad, calling them "sheep."
He later apologized for his comments, but that's besides the point. Neal's on-field performance this year simply hasn't been good enough. Don't believe it? Even general manager Joe Schoen said that Neal's play needs to improve at his bye week press conference.
In Neal's absence this year, the Giants have Tyre Phillips slotted in at right tackle. While Phillips' play hasn't been spectacular, he's been holding his own so far since being signed off of the Eagles practice squad. He's been playing better, especially during the team's three-game winning streak, surrendering no sacks and six pressures in that time frame.
The offensive line as a whole has been improving as the team starts to string together wins. They didn't allow a single sack in the team's win against the Packers on Monday night. With Neal listed as doubtful and likely not playing for another week, is it time to have a discussion about his future?
Neal hasn't taken the step that many fans and coaches hoped he would have this year. While some of that falls on coaching, it's also on Neal to improve. Many have speculated moving him to guard, as he is a mauler in the run game and could benefit in pass blocking by moving to the interior. Schoen said he doesn't envision Neal sliding inside, but the coaching staff could have a different idea if things don't go well when he returns.
As mentioned above, Neal started 13 games at left guard at Alabama in 2019. That was a long time ago, but he has some experience at playing inside. If Daboll won't even commit to him starting at RT when he's back to full health, why not take a chance at seeing what he can do at guard?