Saquon Barkley 'glad' Giants drafted Evan Neal, who shocked him at first glance

Saquon Barkley has another season ahead of him to prove he can still be a star running back for the Giants, and he's received some impressive help.

Barkley has a new tackle to clear the way for him in Alabama product and seventh-overall pick Evan Neal. The running back has already processed the shock value of Neal's 6-foot-7, 337-pound stature.

"Evan Neal, he's a physical specimen," Barkley said Tuesday, via the New York Daily News. "He came for the draft top-30 visit. All the draft people kinda were by my locker. He was there and I was like, oh my God, who is that?

"I saw him and was like I would not be mad if we would pick him up. I didn't know he was gonna drop that far (to No. 7 overall), but great. I'm glad he's on our team."

It's no secret the Giants have needed offensive line help for quite some time. They spent a 2020 first-round selection on Georgia tackle Andrew Thomas, signed two veteran interior blockers in Mark Glowinski and Jon Feliciano, and used their second of two first-rounders on Neal.

New York spent the first on the best player available: Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux. Two picks later, the Giants secured a tackle who some saw as the best in the 2022 class.

"They're great talents," he said. "I'm excited especially selfishly as a running back, when you get a 6-7, 350-pound lineman helping you out -- but not just myself, the quarterback, too, and our offense in general."

The last part is important to note for Barkley. New York hasn't adequately protected Daniel Jones in recent seasons, hindering his development and ability to prove he can become the Giants' long-term quarterback. Shoring up the line had to be priority No. 1 for new Giants general manager Joe Schoen, even if the pick came after Thibodeaux.

Neal's addition matters for more than Jones. Like Jones, Barkley is entering the final year of his rookie deal, but he's had even worse injury luck than Jones in recent years and is far from a proven commodity at this point in his career.

He and Jones will both hope the Giants' offseason moves -- starting with Neal -- will help reverse their fortunes. If anything, Neal certainly owns a room as soon as he walks into it. We'll see if he can turn his stature into success for New York.

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