2022 NFL Draft Player Preview: Evan Neal

  • Evan Neal, 6-7/360

  • Offensive Tackle

  • Alabama

  • Evan Neal 2021 Preview
    By Charlie Campbell

    Career Recap: Neal was a star recruit out of Florida who ended up going to Alabama, like many other elite offensive line prep stars. As a true freshman, Neal broke into the starting lineup at left guard and put together an impressive debut for the Crimson Tide. He then replaced Jedrick Wills at right tackle for 2020 and helped Alabama to an undefeated season and National Championship. He was a consistent pass protector for Mac Jones and opened a lot of holes for Najee Harris.

    2021 Season Outlook: Neal is going to see some quality tests as a junior. Early in the season, Florida Gators edge rusher Brenton Cox could be a challenge given his speed-rushing ability. Neal will take on some quality pro prospects in October, including Ole Miss' Tariqious Tisdale, Texas A&M's Michael Clemons and Texas A&M's Tyree Johnson. In November, Neal could see another dangerous edge rusher in LSU's Ali Gaye.

    Skill-Set Summary: It can be hard for an offensive lineman to start as freshman under Nick Saban, but Neal achieved that, and his freakish skill set is a big reason why. Truly, Neal is a mountain on the offensive line with his massive height and weight. To go along with the size, Neal is surprisingly quick and athletic for a big offensive lineman. After his junior season at Alabama, it would not be surprising if Neal is starting at right tackle in the NFL as a rookie.

    As a pass blocker, Neal is a real challenge for defenders to beat. His sheer mass and length make it hard to get around him. Neal also has the athleticism to create depth in his drop and is quick out of his stance. Neal's heavy hands really stand out, strongly shocking defenders. When he latches on to a defender, they are in real trouble because Neal does an excellent job of sustaining blocks. It is a rare play when a defender can shed one of Neal's block. Neal is a real asset at eliminating second efforts as well and can maintain his blocks for long periods of time.

    Neal is also a load in the ground game, where he can knock defenders off the ball and ride them out of their gaps. He engulfs edge defenders and keeps them from flowing to the ball. With his ability to generate movement, Neal is an asset in short-yardage and goal-line situations. Fewer offensive linemen play with a mean streak in the modern era, but that lesson was lost on Neal, who bring a very physical and violent manner to the game. He looks to pancake his man and is a bully on the field who really beats up a defense. Neal moves well for his size, but his size also leaves him somewhat limited for hitting blocks on smaller defenders in space. Because fo that, Neal could be better off in a power-man-blocking scheme as a pro.

    While Neal was a good pass protector overall in 2020, he can have some problems with speed rushers. His feet can sometimes give him a problem in terms of getting moving, and that allows fast edge rushers to make the corner on him. Working on his feet and ability to wall off speed rushers to the outside and inside are big point of improvements for Neal as a junior. He has also some balance issues, which is another area he should improve. That would help him avoid falling to the turf.

    Neal has the look of a starting right tackle in the NFL, and he could be a pro similar to Orlando Brown.

    2022 NFL Draft Expectations: Entering the 2021 season, Neal looks like a potential first- or second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, provided he stays consistent.



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