Giants Keeping Evan Neal At RT; Team Viewing Jermaine Eluemunor As G?

Jermaine Eluemunor‘s Raiders run offers the Giants some flexibility up front. The veteran, who received a considerable raise from the Giants this offseason, played tackle and guard in Las Vegas. A potential threat to Evan Neal, Eluemunor looks to first be on track to return to an inside role.

Although Neal has not delivered anything close to what the Giants hoped for when they chose him seventh overall in 2022, no plans to kick the Alabama alum inside are on tap. Neal is staying at right tackle, SNY’s Connor Hughes notes.

Neal missed the second half of last season due to the fractured ankle — a diagnosis that surfaced after his rehab stalled — he suffered in early November, but he may be on notice after concerning early returns. Pro Football Focus has rated Neal as the NFL’s second-worst tackle regular (80th of 81) in each of his two seasons. The Giants, who saw top-10 investments fail to produce a tackle answer in Justin Pugh and Ereck Flowers during the 2010s, would be staring at a major draft whiff if this trajectory continues.

The Giants gave Eluemunor a two-year, $14MM deal on Day 1 of the legal tampering period. This marks a significant raise from Eluemunor’s most recent Raiders contract (one year, $3MM), with his Giants guarantee ($6.75MM) outpacing each of his three Raiders deals combined. Although Eluemunor’s work as Las Vegas’ right tackle garnered him this Giants deal, Big Blue added him to start somewhere else up front, according to The Athletic’s Dan Duggan, who lists the eighth-year veteran as the team’s right guard starter opposite fellow UFA addition Jon Runyan Jr. (subscription required). Runyan worked at both guard posts in Green Bay, but Duggan adds he prefers left guard.

Playing a key role in Josh Jacobs‘ 2022 rushing title, Eluemunor graded 21st and 36th at tackle (per PFF) over the past two years. He has experience as an emergency RT solution, having provided the Raiders a safety net after their surprise Alex Leatherwood first-round investment bombed. Eluemunor also played exclusively at right guard in 2021 (though, he only logged 266 snaps that year). Exclusively a tackle in his only other extended starter run (with the Patriots in 2020), Eluemunor at guard seems a somewhat risky proposition for the Giants due to his limited NFL history here.

The team held a guard competition last year, one that featured Ben Bredeson, Mark Glowinski and Joshua Ezeudu. The team had expected Ezeudu, a 2022 third-round pick, would win the starting left guard job. But he did not do so out of training camp; the North Carolina alum suffered a season-ending toe injury in October. While Ezeudu remains on New York’s roster, Bredeson, Glowinski and Shane Lemieux are out of the picture. The team did add ex-Buccaneers spot starter Aaron Stinnie and swingman Austin Schlottmann in free agency, potentially offering help if Eluemunor needs to be moved back to tackle to replace Neal.

Neal was viewed by some as a future guard when he entered the draft, having started 13 games at left guard in 2019. GM Joe Schoen, however, said midway through last season the team still viewed Neal as a tackle. As the Giants begin their offseason, that remains the plan. Though, Neal’s January surgery may leave him sidelined during part of the offseason program. Once the 23-year-old blocker returns to work, this will be a pivotal offseason.

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