Here’s why NY Giants fans can’t give up on Evan Neal ahead of the 2024 campaign

Don’t write off Evan Neal just yet with the Giants heading into the 2024 season.
Seattle Seahawks v New York Giants
Seattle Seahawks v New York Giants / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

While most of the focus of the fanbase of the NY Giants is directed towards the quarterback situation, another position might be as important for the upcoming 2024 season in the offensive line. To go even further, we're talking about what happens with Evan Neal heading into his third year with the team.

If you ask the majority of the Giants supporters what they thought of Neal after the 2023 season, most would say he’s a bust and they have already written him off completely. While some might have washed their hands of Neal, the actual team itself in the Giants have not written Neal off. How? He’s still employed and on the team. Earlier in the offseason, Neal was considered a potential trade candidate if the Giants wanted to move on from the former first-round pick back in 2022, but the Giants did no such thing. They also didn’t release him either. Instead, the Giants kept him.

Can Evan Neal turn things around for the Giants in 2024?

Schoen was asked about the idea of moving Neal to guard and he said he didn’t see the move. Perhaps that move isn’t happening because of the one made once the Giants offseason began in early January when they fired Bobby Johnson as the offensive line coach and hired former Raiders offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo as his replacement.

Bricillo had the Raiders unit in the Top 10 both years he was in charge of them in 2022 and 2023. None of Bricillo’s units had top-tier players. Good players, yes, like Jermaine Eluemunor, who signed a two-year deal to be with the Giants and will likely be starting somewhere in 2024.

Neal in his first season looked like a typical rookie does. He had moments where he looked like a competent offensive lineman, and at times, he had his struggles. Neal also went up against some top pass-rushing units, so the early struggles as a rookie were expected. However, his regression from his rookie year into his second one was something nobody expected. Neal managed to look worse with a year of experience under him. At times, Neal didn’t even look like he belonged on the field.

Neal eventually landed on the sidelines midseason and on injured reserve with an ankle issue that needed surgery. The ankle injury could explain a lot of why Neal struggled so poorly in his second season, but a lot of people have focused his regression on the poor coaching done by Johnson, who got dismissed after two seasons under Brian Daboll’s staff.

It was also clear that the Giants weren’t quite giving up on Neal just yet, as they still view that first-round pick used on him as an investment. The Giants brought in several offensive lineman in free agency to revamp the unit. Along with Eluemunor, Jon Runyan Jr. was signed to be a starting guard. Several other veterans like Aaron Stinnie, Matt Nelson and Austin Schlottmann were also signed. But not a definitive right tackle. Not even one drafted in the 2024 NFL Draft. What does that tell you?

The Giants are still committed to Neal heading into 2024 and they are banking on the hiring of Bricillo to turn his career around. Some might see Neal as an “Ereck Flowers 2.0,” and in his career, Flowers was able to find success as a guard once he left the Giants as a failed left and right tackle. Could Neal be like his former teammate in Justin Pugh, who once started out as a right tackle and eventually had to move inside to guard? It’s quite possible, but clearly, the Giants haven’t gotten to that point yet.

It’s no secret that the third season for Neal with the Giants is a crucial one, and potentially, it could be his last chance to show what he can do with the team. This year will show if it was a coaching issue with Neal or if it’s a talent and playing one. Once upon a time, Neal was considered the possible No. 1 pick heading into the 2022 NFL Draft and the best offensive lineman heading into that year’s draft too. The Giants were at one time ecstatic that Neal fell to them with the No. 7 overall pick.

If Neal can turn things around and make himself look like a reliable and credible right tackle, it will show that the Giants got it right to not give up on him so quickly, unlike the majority of the fanbase who already had during the 2023 season. Neal resurrecting his career will show that his issue was a coaching one who just needed some fine tuning. So before everyone decides to completely write off Neal’s tenure with the Giants, let Bricillo work with him and try to get him back to looking like the dominant player we all once saw at Alabama.