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2022 NFL draft scouting report: Alabama OT Evan Neal

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Alabama OT Evan Neal

6-foot-7
337 pounds

Yahoo Sports' 2022 NFL draft grade

6.55 — certain first-round pick; immediate-impact prospect

Here's how we use our prospect grades for the 2022 NFL draft. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)
Here's how we use our prospect grades for the 2022 NFL draft. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)

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

The skinny

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.

Alabama OT Evan Neal battles against Cincinnati in the College Football Playoff. (Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Alabama OT Evan Neal battles against Cincinnati in the College Football Playoff. (Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Upside

  • 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

Downside

  • 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

Best-suited destination

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."

Player comp

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

Top-5 pick.