2022 NFL draft scouting report: Alabama OT Evan Neal
Alabama OT Evan Neal
Yahoo Sports' 2022 NFL draft grade
6.55 — certain first-round pick; immediate-impact prospect
TL;DR scouting report
Massive, athletically gifted blocker who has played nearly every OL position and can do things on the field few his size can
A 5-star Rivals recruit (No. 8 nationally) in the 2019 class, Neal picked Bama over Georgia, Oklahoma, Miami and others. He stepped right in as the starting left guard as a true freshman, earning several all-freshman team accolades. Neal flip-flopped between left and right tackle (mostly starting here) in 2020 for the national champions before shifting full time to left tackle in 2021. He declared early for the 2022 NFL draft.
Outstanding pro physique on display at NFL combine — almost has build of XXL tight end
Dropped 20 or more pounds and carried his mass extremely well
Tremendous length at 6-7 1/2 with 34-inch arms to keep blockers at bay
Unusually gifted athlete for his size — balance, light feet, strength and good quickness
Gets out of his stance extremely well and looks to initiate contact
Mostly good technique to harness leverage and play on the move or in tight spaces
Quality puncher who times it up very well — can shock defenders
Mirrors effectively and shuffles feet well
Good second-level mover who can get into space when asked
Strong reach blocker who maintains power on the move and finishes
Well-versed in zone and gap run game schemes
Four-position experience in college — played every OL spot except center
Really soaked up knowledge from, improved under former OL coach Doug Marrone
Good discipline — only six penalties in more than 2,500 career snaps (only one penalty in 2021)
Battled tested vs. who's who of future NFL talent in SEC, college playoffs
Better prospect than Ikem Ekwonu, Charles Cross, other 2022 OTs right now — Day 1-ready starter
Weight has fluctuated in his career and might be constant concern for NFL staff
On the ground more than you'd ideally see
Plays out over his feet at times — guilty of some balance issues
Can be crossed up on DL games and inside counters
Beaten some snaps by Tennessee DT Matthew Butler with speed, Georgia EDGE Travon Walker with power
Doesn't quite carry the grip strength you'd imagine for such a specimen
Will open up massive chest at times, giving big striking target
Could stand to improve engagement vs. lesser competition
Intensity level can vacillate through the course of a game
Hasn't played guard in two years
Didn't work out at NFL combine
Neal should be a Week 1 starter at left or right tackle for any team needing a talent boost up front. He's a relatively high-floor prospect with the potential to be a Pro Bowl-caliber blocker in time, although he'd be best served with an OL coach who can keep him engaged more fully. Either way, he's a quality fit into just about any type of offensive scheme and has played well amid high expectations at Alabama.
Did you know
Neal contracted COVID-19 prior to the 2020 SEC title game and missed two weeks of practice leading up to it. He was cleared to play the day prior and started. Although Neal said playing was difficult — "It felt like I was breathing through a coffee straw" — he played all 79 snaps in the Crimson Tide's victory over Florida that day.
"I just kept pushing through it," Neal said at the combine. "It felt great. ... I can't describe a better feeling than winning that game, especially under the circumstances I played with for sure."
Neal has some similar traits to last year's No. 7 overall pick, Penei Sewell, but perhaps with a slightly lower ceiling as a prospect.
Expected draft range