New York Giants RT Evan Neal: The Good, The Great, and The Ugly

Is OT Evan Neal as bad as some believe? We look at his game last year against two top pass rushers to find out.
September 21, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) rushes New York Giants offensive tackle Evan Neal (73) during the second quarter at Levi's Stadium.
September 21, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) rushes New York Giants offensive tackle Evan Neal (73) during the second quarter at Levi's Stadium. / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
In this story:

This summer, all eyes will be on New York Giants' third-year right tackle Evan Neal, the seventh overall draft pick who was supposed to give the Giants the other bookend to Andrew Thomas at offensive tackle for the next decade.

So far, it hasn’t quite worked out that way. Neal has been victimized in part by injuries, and there have been questions about his inconsistency when he has played. 

Yes, Neal has been inconsistent in pass protection through his first two seasons, but some discuss him as if he has not done anything good, and that is not an accurate depiction of his time in the NFL thus far. 

The truth is that a lineman can block well on 40 snaps, but if he gives up a sack and a couple of pressures, his performance is considered a failure. 

When you add that with injuries that have held him out multiple games over his first two seasons, people start openly wondering if he is a bust. 

Now that Jermaine Elumeanor is present, there are those who feel the two should compete openly for the spot. The coaches, however, have said that Neal will get a chance to clinch the right tackle job this summer, assuming, of course, that he’s fully cleared from his season-ending ankle surgery and able to go full speed in training camp. 

When you look at Neal’s film, you see things he needs to improve, but there is still a lot of promise for someone who is just 23 years old. 

We examined Neal's performance against Raiders defensive star Maxx Crosby last season and were surprised by how well he performed. Was it perfect? No, but it was encouraging. 

We also examined Neal in another difficult game, against the 49ers. The Giants' offensive line only surrendered two sacks and six hurries in that game. 

Neal had to deal with Nick Bosa a lot, and Bosa’s only sack came on a play-action where someone other than Neal missed the block. 

It was interesting to study what he did well and what makes you cringe when you look at them. So here is our take on the good, the great, and the ugly of Evan Neal.

More "Good, Great Ugly" Analysis from Coach Gene Clemons

The Good: Run Blocking

If you listen to outsiders discuss Neal, you might forget that he also had to run block, something he was actually good at. 

Neal is a powerful tackle that gets movement when he makes contact with a defender. His down blocks and base blocks can set an edge for a back to make a cut and accelerate through a hole. 

When he is one half of a double team, they can clear the road, but one of his underrated abilities is climbing to the second level. He understands when to leave a double or go directly to the next level. 

In the Week 3 matchup against San Francisco, the Giants did not run the ball much at all thanks to the absence of Saquon Barkley, but when they did, Neal showed his skills as a blocker. (You can also see him blocking against the Cardinals in this clip.)

The Great: Getting his body in the proper pass blocking position. 

At 6-8 and 350 pounds, Neal is a wall on the football field. Whenever he keeps his body in the proper position, he has a lot of success in pass protection. He can handle a speed rush when he slides his feet well and does not get turned too badly. 

He has a strong punch, so it is difficult for pass rushers to utilize the bull rush–he can jolt a defender and anchor down to stop their momentum. 

The key for Neal to proper positioning is to keep the pass rusher from getting on his shoulder. That is usually where he gets into trouble. As long as he makes defenders try to rush into his chest, he can keep them in front of him by moving his feet well. 

In the San Francisco game, Neal was able to stonewall Bosa whenever he did not give up his shoulder. When he did, he fought to run Bosa around the outside to at least give his quarterback the chance to escape.

The Ugly: Dealing with the speed rush

The biggest issue for offensive tackles today is dealing with the speed rush. Edge rushers are faster than they have ever been, and they come in so many different shapes and sizes that they could all make the same move, but it feels different to a tackle based on the edge rusher's physique.

Neal’s most disturbing problem seems to be in his pass drop. At times, he looks like he is playing much slower than the defender.  He turns his shoulder and does what many call “opening the gate.” 

Once he turns his shoulder, he allows the pass rusher to get by him, putting him in a position where he must chase and try to push the defender around the quarterback. This is evident when he looks like he is bending at the waist and lunging for the block. 

Coach’s Counsel

If people were to go back and look at Neal on a play-by-play basis, they would see more positives than negatives about his pass blocking. 

Some players come to the NFL ready-made. Some pick it up quickly, and others take a little more seasoning. Over the past few seasons, the biggest issue in pass protection has been up the middle. The Giants have addressed that issue and, in the process, significantly upgraded their depth. 

Neal is hopefully healing and continuing to work on his craft to clean up the inconsistencies. He needs to block out the noise and stay healthy; the results will speak for themselves. 

Published |Modified
Gene Clemons


Gene "Coach" Clemons has been involved with the game of football for 30 years as a player, coach, evaluator, and journalist.  Clemons has spent time writing for the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, Bridgton News, Urbana Daily Citizen, Macon Telegraph and  He has a YouTube channel called "Coach Gene Clemons" where you can find his popular "X&O The Joes" series as well as other football related content.