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.
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 initiates contact with power (bull-rush) and does a great job working to Neal's outside shoulder by hitting Neal's elbow and bringing his inner arm underneath to rip— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) August 3, 2022
KT turns the corner and Neal is in a compromised position pic.twitter.com/5D4hMRwa8j
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:
Great example of what I talked about with Jonah Williams. Evan Neal start wasn’t bad. LT/RT always trying to stay square little longer. Better end if he doesn’t try to muscle the finish. Just keep moving your feet in sink with the rusher to stretch him.— Andrew Whitworth (@AndrewWhitworth) August 3, 2022
It’s a dance baby! https://t.co/rXrc5hmMsW
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:
5. Quincy Roche vs. Evan Neal. After jumping offside, whoooosh: pic.twitter.com/oHMIbP18oz— Dan Duggan (@DDuggan21) August 3, 2022
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:
Oshane Ximines tempos his pass-rush with a slight inside jab foot to stop Neal's feet and cause hesitation before using that quickness to explode up the arc and turn the corner basically untouched— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) August 1, 2022
Daboll throws his hands up in the air at the end of the clip. Good rep from OX pic.twitter.com/5sZnwB8utH
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.
Saquonnnn pic.twitter.com/sgUtVeDBWH— New York Giants (@Giants) August 1, 2022
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.
Leonard Williams won both his reps against the guards in practice pic.twitter.com/PueoOiCWAI— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) August 1, 2022
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:
Shane Lemieux jumps Jalyn Holmes but the defender locks out and gets his hands inside.— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) August 1, 2022
Lemieux does a good job refitting his inside hand underneath Holmes' inside shoulder which allowed him to sink his hips (establish leverage) and control Holmes' chest to limit space vs swim pic.twitter.com/rZZNrl6yGX
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:
Dexter Lawrence winning with power and a swim move vs Jamil Douglas in 1v1s— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) August 1, 2022
Plus that Bobby Johnson hard count got Dex leaning pic.twitter.com/cdajaCdMKx
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:
Feliciano quickly gets out of his set to break Lawrence's contact and force the big man to the ground— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) August 3, 2022
Feliciano employed several "snatch & trap" moves (like this one) over the last two seasons with Buffalo pic.twitter.com/WITfTfFzak
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):
Joshua Ezeudu shows that grip strength pic.twitter.com/1Z64xUXQa6— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) August 1, 2022
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:
9. ILB Darrian Beavers lining up on the edge and beating Josh Ezeudu inside: pic.twitter.com/HJrzqEzQZ1— Dan Duggan (@DDuggan21) August 3, 2022
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.
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.