Alabama offensive lineman Evan Neal intends to apply for early eligibility for the 2022 NFL Draft, adding an elite tackle with the versatility and experience to play on the left or right side to the draft field, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday.
Neal started at left guard as a true Alabama freshman in 2019, as Bama had two eventual first-round selections at offensive tackle at the time: Jedrick Wills and Alex Leatherwood. Upon Wills' departure, Neal moved to right tackle for his sophomore season in 2020, then filled Leatherwood's spot at left tackle in 2021. He excelled at all three positions, earning freshman All-America honors as a guard and, two years later, was named a consensus All-American at left tackle.
At 6-foot-7 and 350 pounds, per school measurements, Neal combines massive size with the quick feet and long arms necessary to be evaluated as a top tackle prospect by scouts. NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah, in studying 2020 film of Neal last summer, wrote that he "has the skill set of a 10-year starter at right tackle." Jeremiah compared Neal's style to two-time Pro Bowler Marcus McNeill, who was a second-round pick of the Chargers in 2006.
As a sophomore at right tackle, he allowed just 1.5 sacks and missed only six assignments, per UA coaching staff grades, in 810 snaps. Neal followed that 2020 season with a dominant junior campaign at left tackle. Per Pro Football Focus, he allowed two sacks over 1,073 snaps last year, and over his last two seasons at tackle, only 22 quarterback pressures -- fewer than one per game on average. Neal proved to be a powerful blocker in the running game, as well, paving the way as UA's highest-graded offensive lineman for 1,000-yard seasons by both Najee Harris and 2022 draft prospect Brian Robinson.