As he prepares for the 2022 NFL Draft, Evan Neal is set to continue an Alabama Crimson Tide tradition. In each of the last three years, Alabama has had an offensive tackle selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Not only is Neal primed to extend this streak, but the Alabama OT’s scouting report also demonstrates why he’s considered one of the top offensive line prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Evan Neal NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Offensive tackle
- School: Alabama
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 6’7 1/2″
- Weight: 337 pounds
- Wingspan: 83″
- Arm: 34″
- Hand: 10 1/8″
Evan Neal Scouting Report
Neal began the 2022 NFL Draft cycle as the consensus top-ranked offensive tackle in the class. His performances through his final college football season have done very little to change perception. If anything, his scouting report has strengthened through his junior campaign.
Beginning Neal’s scouting report anywhere other than his imposing size would be malpractice. Reportedly weighing in at 360 pounds during his career, Neal tipped the scales at 337 pounds at the NFL Combine. At over 6’7″, he sports the newly measured weight extremely well, boasting a chiseled frame that should alleviate any concerns about his conditioning.
Meanwhile, his NFL-ready size is weaponized by the requisite length to play the position at the next level. With an 83″ wingspan and 34″ arms, Neal has the ability to keep pass rushers away from his frame. Furthermore, he’s able to use his length to guide defenders around the outside track and away from his quarterback.
At the end of his long levers are a pair of big, powerful hands. Neal can shock his opponent with violence and power in his hands when he gets to their chest plate. Meanwhile, those same attributes ensure that he can overwhelm pass rushers’ attempts to get their hands anywhere near the same spot on his own body.
Powerful, athletic, and versatile
Neal is a genuine people mover, whether by utilizing his powerful punch or driving them downfield with his imposing lower body. Neal is rarely overpowered in pass protection and helps carve open running lanes. In addition to his play strength, Neal plays the game with a competitive toughness.
Alongside his size, strength, and violent hands, Neal demonstrates impressive athleticism. Although he didn’t complete a 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine or Alabama‘s Pro Day, the imposing offensive tackle showcases excellent play speed on tape. He’s a dangerous athlete, exploding out of his stance with bad intentions and impressively smooth footwork. That footwork is evidenced by Neal’s ability to mirror and counter most pass rushers.
Neal’s athleticism shows up in the run game. He’s been used as a puller, showing the ability to get around the back of the formation in a timely manner to neutralize his opponent. The Alabama OT has also demonstrated the ability to get out in front of the play and extend running lanes at the second level.
With over 40 starts during his three-year career, Neal is an experienced offensive tackle prospect despite only being 21. During that time, he has starts at left guard, right tackle, and left tackle. As a result, he’s the most versatile of any of the top offensive tackles in the 2022 NFL Draft, adding extra value to his scouting report.
Areas for improvement
Neal’s scouting report demonstrates that he has the ability to be an early first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Furthermore, there’s plenty of reason to believe that he can have a long NFL career, potentially to an All-Pro level. However, there are areas of his game where he can still improve.
The Alabama OT is partial to lunging at opposing defenders. This causes Neal to throw his weight over his toes, unbalancing him and making him susceptible to pull moves. There are multiple examples of him hitting the deck when this occurs, both at tackle and guard.
Although there was improvement in this during his final college season, there is still work to be done. In addition to lunging, Neal has a propensity to lean on his pass rusher, making it difficult for him to react to redirection moves.
Neal’s Player Profile
Neal grew up in the small Floridian city of Okeechobee, perhaps more famous for its 1920s Category 5 hurricane than the handful of players that made it big in the NFL. Nevertheless, one of those players in that handful holds family ties to the young Alabama OT.
Neal is the nephew of Jimmie Jones, who emerged from Okeechobee to be a two-time Super Bowl winner with the Miami Dolphins. Another uncle is Cleveland Gary, the 1990 NFL rushing touchdown champion.
With a father who also played linebacker for Tulane, you could say that football is in Neal’s DNA.
Before his sophomore season at Okeechobee High School, Neal earned the opportunity to transfer to the prestigious IMG Academy in Brenton. The program is a pipeline to college football and, subsequently, the NFL. Although Neal described it as a “hard decision” to leave his hometown high school, he also knew it was “an opportunity I can’t overlook.”
Not that the massive young man himself was being overlooked
As early as May 2016, Neal was already courting colleges, committing to Alabama before rescinding his commitment following an offer from Miami. With family ties to the program, the Hurricanes would be a key player throughout his recruitment process. He would receive over 20 bids, taking visits to FSU, Georgia, and Oklahoma, in addition to Alabama and Miami.
A true man amongst boys, Neal’s size would be both beneficial and problematic during his high school career. At 6’7″, he possessed the height and length to stave off opponents easily. Still, his weight would be a cause for concern. At one point, Neal checked in at 390 pounds. This prompted NFL offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga to tell a trainer at IMG that he wouldn’t draft him if he were an NFL team.
Despite that assertion, Neal’s performances on the field for IMG earned him an invite to the Under Armour All-American Game, and college programs clamored for his signature.
Neal was the No. 1 offensive tackle, a five-star prospect, and a top-10 player in the 2019 recruiting class. In December 2019, he committed to Alabama, declaring, “I want to be the best, and to be the best, you have to compete with the best.”
Neal’s career at Alabama
Neal would get the opportunity to compete with the best immediately upon arrival in Tuscaloosa. Although he played offensive tackle for IMG, he started all 13 games of his true freshman campaign at left guard. Neal was a part of an Alabama offensive line that allowed less than 1 sack per game, with just 12 sacks on 406 pass attempts during the 2019 season.
Furthermore, he helped open running lanes for a ground game that rushed for 5 yards or more on 44% of their plays. Individual success on the offensive line can often be challenging to gauge. Yet, Neal was credited with not allowing a sack, hurry, or pressure in 10 of his 13 games as a true freshman. Moreover, he was named a Freshman All-American by multiple outlets and earned Freshman All-SEC honors from the conference coaches.
Following his successful freshman season, Neal made the transition to OT for Alabama as a sophomore. With Jedrick Wills headed to the NFL and Alex Leatherwood moving to left tackle, Neal started at right tackle for 13 games of Alabama’s title-winning campaign.
The Crimson Tide offense was prolific, with Najee Harris setting a school record for touchdowns in a single game against Ole Miss. That game also saw the second most offensive yards by a Crimson Tide team in school history. Alabama’s unit secured the Joe Moore Award as the best offensive line in the nation after allowing just 0.85 sacks per game and springing the ground attack for the most rushing touchdowns in college football.
Neal’s NFL Draft ascension
Neal’s contribution was once again spectacular. On 810 snaps, he was credited with conceding just 1.5 sacks, 4 quarterback hurries, and 3 pressures. He also was called for just 3 penalties and missed only 6 assignments all season. Despite all the offensive weaponry, it was their behemoth of a right tackle who took home Offensive Player of the Week honors after the clash with Mississippi State.
Adding an extra layer of versatility to his NFL Draft scouting report, Neal made the switch to left tackle for the 2021 college football season. Additionally, the gargantuan offensive tackle was named a permanent team captain for the season. He played 15 games protecting Bryce Young’s blindside as the Crimson Tide flowed to another national championship appearance.
Neal tallied a team-high 34 knockdown blocks while adding over 1,200 snaps of experience to his NFL Draft résumé. There were only two regular-season games where the Alabama OT allowed a sack. Impressively, he shut down the vaunted Georgia defense in the SEC Championship Game. A success in his first season at left tackle, Neal earned first-team All-American honors.
While the 2021 college football season saw multiple challengers emerge for his OT1 crown, Neal has remained the top offensive tackle on the Pro Football Network Top 300 Big Board. Meanwhile, as the third-ranked overall prospect, it seems unlikely that the Alabama prospect will be anything but a top-10 selection in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Tony Pauline’s Scouting Report for Evan Neal
Positives: Massive college offensive lineman with positional versatility. Sets with an exceptionally wide base, bends his knees, and blocks with proper pad level. Possesses outstanding vision, sees and recognizes the blitz, and works well with linemates. Strong, anchors in pass protection, and consistently keeps his quarterback upright.
Gets movement run blocking, stays with the action, and works to finish off opponents. Properly places his hands into defenders and jolts them with an outstanding punch. Makes terrific use of blocking angles. Stays square and easily seals defenders from the action.
Negatives: Lacks smooth and fluid footwork off the edge. Shows stiffness in his game and slow adjusting.
Analysis: Neal was a terrific lineman the past two seasons at both left and right tackle. He possesses the size and style to be used on the strong side, though I would guess Neal will start as a left tackle until he proves unable to handle the position. While he’s a solid prospect, he is by no means the can’t-miss left tackle some depict him to be.