Is Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal the top tackle in the 2022 NFL Draft? Let’s dive in and see with this scouting report.
Name: Evan Neal
Position: Offensive Tackle
Height: 6′ 7 1/2″
Weight: 337 pounds
Hand: 10 1/8″
**No other athletic testing data at this time**
Evan Neal was a dominant player in high school, and was rated as a five-star prospect by all the major outlets, as well as a consensus top three tackle and top five player in the state of Florida. He picked the University of Alabama over Florida State, Miami, Georgia, and Oklahoma.
As a freshman, Neal settled in at left guard on the offensive line, and was awarded a position on the freshman All-American team. He subsequently moved positions in his sophomore and junior seasons, moving to right tackle and left tackle, respectively. He had 40 total starts on the offensive line in his time with the Crimson Tide: 13 at left guard, 12 at right tackle, and 15 at left tackle. He was named a captain as a junior, and was a consensus first-team All-American.
2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report
Evan Neal possesses elite size for the tackle position, and the length and athleticism to boot.
He’s got good initial quicks out of his stance, firing off the ball in the run game and quickly working to engage defenders. His athleticism makes him an impressive space blocker who can get to his spot on the perimeter and the second level. Those initial quicks allow him to reach around the edge and seal things off on perimeter runs. He can latch on and displace defenders, and flashes the ability to finish.
As a pass protector, Neal’s sets are quick and efficient. He doesn’t look clunky at all, showing off light feet to with good lateral quickness. That quickness helps him recover to keep himself in front of rushers, and his power and anchor prevent rushers from gaining much ground on him or pushing him back into the pocket. His vision and footwork help him pick up stunts with ease, and he’s able to set well vertically and turn to push rushers past the arc when necessary.
Neal’s hand placement has improved mightily, and his length makes things difficult for rushers to get into his chest. His strike keeps defenders off-balance and makes counters a difficult proposition. Neal will give teams the option to play him at right tackle or left tackle, and he mentioned his versatility at the Alabama pro day.
Balance is one of the main issues Neal has on tape. While he improved upon it in 2021, there are still instances of him lunging way out over his feet, especially getting to his spot on the edge in the run game. If he doesn’t land the strike clean, he’s susceptible to ending up on the ground. It also causes him to be late to his spot at the second level, should the play dictate that.
The balance issues also cause Neal to get push-pulled in pass protection by rushers. Rushers use that momentum and lunging to engage and pull him down to the ground. Also, Neal has a tendency in his pass sets, where he comes to balance but gets a little flat-footed, causing speedy rushers to be able to hesitate and turn the corner.
It was thought that Evan Neal could be the first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, especially earlier in the process. Now, it’s unclear as to where his landing spot will be when the 2022 NFL Draft rolls around, but he’s likely to become a top seven selection. His combination of power, length, athleticism, and footwork is fantastic, and he has the makings of a franchise left tackle. The Giants and Panthers should be two teams lining up for his services, as should the Houston Texans.
Evan Neal brings a great blend of power and athleticism, and is a great player in both the run game and as a blindside pass protector.