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Looking at Evan Neal’s early struggles, more from Giants offensive line

Analyzing clips from Twitter to see what we can learn about revamped unit

NFL: New York Giants Training Camp
Evan Neal stretching before a training camp practice.
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants held their first two fully-padded practices of training camp week this week, shining a spotlight on the offensive line. The Giants turned over four positions on that line from last season; Andrew Thomas is the only remaining starter from a 2021 offensive unit that - to be kind - struggled terribly.

New York selected two rookies in the first three rounds (OT Evan Neal and OG/OT Joshua Ezeudu) while selecting Ezeudu’s college teammate, OG Marcus McKethan, in the fifth round. New York also added several veteran offensive linemen like Max Garcia, Jamil Douglas, Jon Feliciano, and Mark Glowinski.

All these veterans signed one-year deals except Glowinski, who signed a three-year contract and figures to start at right guard. That’s a lot of new faces to overhaul one of the worst units in football last season; offensive line coach Bobby Johnson has his work cut out for him, but it’s a better situation than last year.

Padded practices have brought the addition of one-on-one blocking drills, as well as a better look at offensive line vs. defensive line matchups in team periods.

Early in camp, available videos show that the offensive line has struggled against the likes of Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, and Kayvon Thibodeaux. Tweets have circulated showing some struggles, but it’s important to note the context.

A lot of these videos are one-on-ones that are incredibly tailored for defensive success in the trenches. An offensive lineman’s technique and approach are predicated on their fellow teammates to their left and right.

Evan Neal

Nevertheless, let’s look at some of these plays. Negative rumblings have commenced about seventh overall pick Evan Neal because of videos such as the one below:

Thibodeaux provides further evidence of his potential here, but Neal losing his outside shoulder and conceding ground to a much smaller player doesn’t look great. I’m not going to overreact to training camp clips. Neal wasn’t perfectly polished coming out of Alabama and still has immense upside, power, size/length, and ability. I like how future Hall of Famer Andrew Whitworth analyzed the play:

This is a neat angle, although I wish the play were longer. Neal’s struggles are akin to Andrew Thomas’ early struggles; his set-depth is inconsistent, he’s guessing too much, and he’s oversetting:

Here, Quincy Roche took advantage of Neal’s aggressiveness, after ironically being too aggressive and jumping offsides. Neal was also beaten by Oshane Ximines’ quickness on the first day of padded practice:

Neal has lost several one-on-ones against Ximines, who is struggling to make a roster spot. That is not encouraging, but it is also not the end of the world. The speed of the NFL is an adjustment for even top recruits out of IMG Academy.

It was great to see Neal move Jihad Ward (55) out of Saquon Barkley’s way below.

Neal will have to learn from these mistakes and adapt to the speed of the NFL. That can come with reps and more time to refine his overall technique. I’m not jumping overboard, but I do hope to see steady improvement.

Dealing with Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams

The duo is reportedly dominating in training camp, especially Williams. Here are two clips from Monday’s practice.

Williams’ hands look quick and active. He also looks explosive maintaining a low profile to reduce the surface area of his chest, making him difficult to locate. The first clip is against Mark Glowinski, who is way too high at the point of contact. Williams struck Glowinski with power before sinking low and inside to rip through the half-man relationship. The second was against Shane Lemieux, who could not maintain positioning against Williams’ counters.

Things are not all bad for Lemieux, who is working back from a patellar injury. He is working at center and has flashed in camp:

Dexter Lawrence and Lemiuex were in a training camp scrum early this week. It led to trash talk that seemed in jest, but Lawrence’s power during plays is visible. The play below is against Jamil Douglas:

Lawrence had several obvious wins against the Giants’ interior offensive line, so it was refreshing to see Jon Feliciano snatch and trap Lawrence to the ground on Wednesday:

Josh Ezeudu

The rookie third-round selection shows his adaptability and football intelligence by handling the responsibilities of multiple positions. He also showed incredible grip strength in Monday’s practice against David Moa (96):

Moa attempts to work through Ezeudu’s shoulder, but the young offensive lineman mirrors his rush and is sturdy with his anchor to halt Moa. There are still rookie hiccups with Ezeudu:

Rookie linebacker Darrian Beavers showed his versatility by aligning on the edge and punishing Ezeudu with an inside move that forced the over-setting tackle to the ground.

Final thoughts

It’s early in camp. The offensive line is in a complete over-haul and continuity may take time. There’s a lot of development and competition that should ensue, and we’ll what things look like Week 1 vs. Tennessee.