While the Giants have seen Andrew Thomas become one of the NFL’s better tackles — en route to a $23.5MM-per-year extension — they have not observed their right tackle make a second-year leap. Evan Neal has missed time with injuries and struggled when on the field. Thomas was a Dave Gettleman draft choice, while Neal went in Joe Schoen‘s first draft in charge. Pro Football Focus has assigned this season’s third-worst tackle grade to Neal. The Alabama product was seen as a player who could potentially slide to guard at some point, having played there at times in college. For the time being, Schoen is not entertaining such a switch.
“No, I don’t think so,” Schoen said, via the New York Post’s Ryan Dunleavy. “We are looking forward to getting him back, but he knows there are some things he can do better — and that’s what we expect from him. … I went back and watched the Alabama stuff: The kid can play. We just have to get him to be more consistent. I have a lot of confidence in Evan.”
In 20 starts over two seasons, PFF charges Neal with 10 sacks allowed. Just two of those have come this year, but the former No. 7 overall pick has missed five games. Neal has missed five of the Giants’ past six contests; the team has not placed him on IR. The Giants will certainly hope to see signs of promise from Neal down the stretch.
Here is the latest from the NFC East:
- DaRon Bland has morphed from a 2022 fifth-round pick into an NFL record holder, via the fifth pick-six he notched on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys could see two cornerbacks become first-team All-Pros in three seasons, after Trevon Diggs‘ 11-INT season landed him on the 2021 top team. Diggs’ 2023 replacement played at Division I-FCS Sacramento State and then spent a year at Fresno State. Cowboys scout Ross Wuensche identified Bland as a target, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport notes (video link), and the team brought him in for a visit. Describing Bland as a late-blooming prospect, Rapoport adds interest came in late enough he could not turn all his invitations for “30” into meetings before the 2022 deadline. With Stephon Gilmore‘s contract up after this season, the Cowboys extended Diggs and have Bland signed through 2025.
- Recent Cowboys pickup Martavis Bryant remains in redevelopment mode. The team has not elevated its practice squad stash for a game yet, making it now more than five years since the former Steelers starter has played in an NFL game. No timetable is in place for a Bryant move to the active roster, but executive VP Stephen Jones said (via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill) the team sought the recent XFL wideout for his size-speed combo. The Cowboys are fairly well stocked at receiver, but Bryant’s 6-foot-4 frame would be a new dimension for this particular Dallas receiving cadre. It remains to be seen if the soon-to-be 32-year-old pass catcher still has NFL-viable form left.
- Having fired DC Jack Del Rio after a Cowboys Thanksgiving romp, Ron Rivera is set to call the Commanders‘ defensive plays. The team also fired multi-stop Del Rio lieutenant Brent Vieselmeyer, who was Washington’s DBs coach this season. To help manage the workload, Rivera hired Jimmy Salgado as an interim staffer, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter tweets. Salgado had spent six seasons on Sean McDermott‘s Bills staff, but the team fired him this offseason. Salgado spent the 2023 season at Michigan State, working as the Spartans’ cornerbacks coach.