CBS Sports tabs Evan Neal for Year 2 leap
CBS Sports' Jeff Kerr selected one under-the-radar player for each NFC Team who he believes could be a star this upcoming season.
As the analyst said in the introduction, "These players are already good and can transform to elite at their respective position, or they can finally have the breakout season their teams are expecting. These are the players worth monitoring in the NFC for 2023. By the end of this upcoming season, these players have the potential to become household names (rookies are not counted for this list)."
When it came to the Giants, second-year tackle Evan Neal was the selection.
"With a year under his belt, Neal has an opportunity to take the Giants to the next level," Kerr wrote. "A good sophomore season could get the Giants back to the divisional round of the playoffs, providing excellent expectations for the offensive line going forward."
The Giants selected Neal with the seventh overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The 6-foot-7, 350-pound lineman started 13 games at right tackle during his rookie campaign. A knee injury suffered during the team's Week 8 victory over the Jaguars led to him missing four contests.
"Nothing is a surprise now," Neal told the media last week about Year 2 in the NFL. "I know what to expect. I know what an NFL-level game is. Just doing what I can to go out there and perform and play well. So, it's definitely good that I got the experience that I did last year, carrying it over into this season."
Neal moved to right tackle after starting 15 games at left tackle for Alabama in 2021. He was named First-Team All-SEC and Second-Team All-American after he helped lead the Crimson Tide offense to sixth in the country in scoring (39.9 points-per-game), seventh in passing (338.2 yards-per-game) and third in 3rd-down conversion percentage.
"They've had a year under their belt. So, still got a lot to learn. Still young players," head coach Brian Daboll said about Neal and Kayvon Thibodeaux during OTAs. "But again, they can draw from some of the experiences that they've had the previous year. Even just, not in terms of playing right now because we're out here in shorts and T-shirts, but grasping the material, different questions they ask. They've been through some of the stuff, so when they're watching cutups of things that we did the previous year, they know it. As a rookie, you have no idea what's going on right now. So, I'd say most players from year one to year two, there's a little bit more comfort level."
View the best photos from offensive tackle Evan Neal's first season with the Giants.
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View all the action from the Quest Diagnostics Training Center as OTAs come to a close.