A win by the Giants would keep their play-offs hope alive, as well as go along way toward clinching the playoffs for the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. It certainly won’t be easy, as the Packers are one of the hottest teams in the NFL, and the Giants are currently 6.5-point underdogs at home.
And while the Giants are still holding out hope of clawing their way into the playoffs, the remainder of 2023 is also about self evaluation in preparation of 2024. The Giants have a big — in several senses — question to answer going forward in the form of offensive lineman Evan Neal.
Neal has not yet returned to the practice field as of this writing, but his injury isn’t expected to be season-ending, either. He should be back before the end of the season.
The Giants originally drafted Neal out of Alabama with the seventh overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft to be their long-term right tackle across from Andrew Thomas. Unfortunately, Neal has not panned out in the way the fans hoped. Giants aren’t happy with Neal’s lack of development as well, with GM Joe Schoen recently saying that Neal “needs to play better. He knows that.”
It’s worth noting that Neal’s development has been disrupted by injury over the course of his young career. He has missed he the last three weeks (He suffered the injury in Week 9) with an ankle injury after being questionable with a previous ankle injury since Week 6, which also cost him two games. He also missed time in training camp with a concussion and four games in 2022 due to a sprained MCL.
But regardless of the reason, Neal needs to play better. Not only do the Giants need better play from their offensive line, but they can’t afford to keep spending high draft picks on offensive linemen.
There has been a call from fans to move Neal inside to right guard, and leave Tyre Phillips at right tackle for the rest of the season — and possibly into the future. Neal has played guard in the past (he was Alabama’s left guard as a true freshman), and a move inside to guard is often seen as a way to salvage something from failed tackles. It might not be so simple as that, as Neal is already tall for an offensive tackle at 6-foot-7 1⁄2 inches, which would put him in the 99th percentile for guard height. Guards are typically shorter than tackles, both for the natural leverage against defensive tackles, and so they’re less likely to block interior throwing lanes.
So for this week, SB Nation Reacts wants to know where Giants fans think Neal should play once he is finally able to practice and return to the football field.
Assuming Justin Pugh remains entrenched at left guard, should Neal return to right tackle, or replace Ben Bredeson at right guard?
Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NFL. Throughout the year we ask questions of the most plugged-in New York Giants fans and fans across the country. Sign up here to participate in the weekly emailed surveys.