October 5, 2022

Saquon Barkley when he met Evan Neal: “Oh my God, who is that?”

Giants draft pick Evan Neal already has a fan in Saquon Barkley. (John Locher/AP)

To say Saquon Barkley is excited for new Giants tackle Evan Neal is an understatement.

“Evan Neal, he’s a physical specimen,” Barkley said Tuesday night at the United Way of New York City 29th annual Gridiron Gala at The Glasshouse in Midtown Manhattan. “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,” the running back said with a smile. “I didn’t know he was gonna drop that far (to No. 7 overall), but great. I’m glad he’s on our team.”

Barkley, one of Tuesday night’s Hometown Heroes, said he’s not making any grand predictions or putting extra pressure on Neal (from Alabama) and No. 5 overall pick Kayvon Thibodeaux (from Oregon). He just knows they’re two special additions to the team.

“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.”

Jets tackle George Fant, Tuesday night’s other Hometown Hero, said Neal’s size benefits him most in how he can “anchor” on pass sets.

“What I’ve seen from him, he can really play,” Fant said. “He’s long, a big guy. Excited to see him play.”

Fant said of his own team’s draft, which included first round picks Ahmad Gardner, Garrett Wilson and Jermaine Johnson:

“For us to go out there and get three picks, I thought we were only gonna get two. Looks like we got some guys we really needed for our offense and defense, as well. Excited to get them in, start working and win some games.”

TAKING THE FIFTH

Giants defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence was excited about the team picking up his fifth-year option.

“It feels good,” he said with a smile. “Shows they still want me around. And I want to be a New York Giant, so it’s good.”

MORE CHANGES

First-year GM Joe Schoen continued making changes on Tuesday to the front office he inherited. Pro scouting executives Ken Sternfeld and Matt Shauger are no longer with the club, a source confirmed. The Athletic first reported the news.

Sternfeld’s departure could be a retirement. The senior pro scouting executive has been with the Giants organization since 2002. Shauger, a senior pro scout/football systems analyst, has been with the Giants since 2005.

Firings began Monday with the dismissals of Chris Pettit (director of college scouting, with Giants since 2004) and Kyle O’Brien, college scouting senior personnel executive (with Giants since 2021).

Schoen evaluated his staff for three months through his first NFL Draft before making these sweeping staff changes.