The Giants got their man at No. 7.
After seeing five defensive players (including their own pick of Kayvon Thibodeaux) come off the board, the Giants, knowing that they could have their choice of offensive tackles, plucked Alabama tackle Evan Neal with the seventh overall pick in the 2022 draft.
Neal, 6-foot-7 and 337 pounds, will compete for the starting job at right tackle, according to general manager Joe Schoen.
In Over 1,400 pass blocking snaps, Neal, per Pro Football Focus, has allowed just 36 pressures, scoring a 98.6 pass blocking efficiency rating. But the true beauty of this selection is in position versatility.
Throughout his three seasons for the Crimson Tide, Neal has logged over 700 snaps each at left tackle, left guard, and right tackle.
In his first season, Neal is expected to line up at right tackle for the Giants, the one position that general manager Joe Schoen really didn't heavily address in free agency last month. But again, that versatility that Neal brings could leave the door open for him to contribute in other areas as the coaches see fit down the line.
Okay, so what is there to love about Evan Neal? Start with his athleticism, rare for a man his size; his quick feet and lower body flexibility to get out of his stance and work to the second level; and his ability to create movement in the run game.
But like all rookies, there are still some rough edges to be smoothed out, starting with inconsistent technique. Neal sometimes bends at the waist and can be a little too over aggressive in his game which can result in him falling to the ground.
As Neal develops more patience, particularly in pass protection, his length, strength and athleticism will be tough for opponents to beat.
Neal is the third offensive lineman to be selected by the Giants in Rounds 1-3 since 2020, joining fellow offensive tackles Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart, the Giants' first- and a third-round picks in 2020.
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Giant Country's Nick Falato, in his scouting profile of Neal, notes:
Overall, Evan Neal is a mountain of a man with two redwood trees attached to his torso. He is explosive, with quick feet, excellent power, and strong hands to grip. He is fundamentally sound with his hand technique with a devastating punch to stun, and he’s a good overall run blocker.
Neal found himself on the ground more than I expected; he bends too much at the waist, and he’s not the most balanced player when forced to move on a lateral plane. His 6’7 height gives him a natural high center of gravity which leaves him susceptible to counter rushes and craftier pass rushers. He’s not perfect, but he has a very high floor.
Neal is going to be a good football player in the NFL. I’m not certain he has top-3 at his position type of upside, but he’s going to make an impact for whoever selects him early on Day 1.