3 GIANTS POISED FOR A BREAKOUT YEAR

The NY Giants have been criticized over the last decade for their draft choices. Several high-profile picks have flamed out in Giants blue. Three very recent picks have struggled, but this is the year they break out. We talk about them here.

                                                  OT Evan Neal 

Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

No draft pick should be considered a bust after only playing a rookie year in the NFL. Even if they were a superstar in college, the NFL is hard and takes adjustment. Unfortunately, some experts around the league feel that NY Giants’ right tackle is that bust. The rookie struggle for Neal was real; he had 24 blown blocks and allowed 11 sacks from the right side. I am not a vast PFF fan, but it is how players are graded, and Neal is graded out at the 80th tackle out of 81. Neal is a massive young man at 6’7 320 pounds; his mobility was limited by knee and ankle issues mid-season. It showed as he was beaten routinely by speed rushers. In the off-season, Neal has been helped by former All-Pro Willie Anderson. Anderson noticed a flaw immediately in Neal’s stance and has helped him correct that. Please keep in mind Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Thomas graded at 62.4 and gave up ten sacks his rookie season. Last year he made the Pro Bowl and graded at 89.1 (elite status), allowing only three sacks. Neal hopefully takes a giant leap at right tackle, and the Giants will give him a chance to grow.

                                         Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux

AP Photo/John Minchillo

Kayvon Thibodeaux will be forever linked to the player spotlighted above. Thibodeaux went 5th overall in the 2022 NFL Draft, while Neal went 7th. Thibodeaux’s rookie year was a little smoother than Neal’s, as he finished fourth in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting. He posted four sacks and 45 pressures. A decent year by rookie standards, but it needed to be better in a Wink Martindale defensive scheme that blitzed 39.7% of dropbacks and finished 20th in the league. Thibodeaux was the 29th edge rusher in the PFF rankings, with an overall grade of 72.5. A promising future looms for Thibodeaux, and if he gets the help he needs from All-Pro Dexter Lawrence and former Pro-Bowler Leonard Williams inside, we have yet to see his best.

                                             Edge Azeez Ojulari

AP Photo/John Minchillo

I did not want to put another edge rusher here, but we all know Martindale will need these guys. Ojulari, the former Georgia star, was amazingly sitting and waiting for the Giants in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Giants used the 50th overall pick for a first-round talent and scooped him up. He went on to rookie season that saw him break the Giants franchise rookie record for sacks with 8. Things seemed on the upswing, especially when the Giants brought in Thibodeaux; injuries derailed Ojulari from a big year in 2022. He finished second on the team with 5.5 sacks and had 20 QB pressures. An athletic specimen at 6’2, 249 pounds, Ojulari is on the brink of stardom. Him healthy, and Kayvon Thibodeaux is on the other side; the sacks will come.