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By the Numbers
- Height: 6-foot-7
- Weight: 350 pounds
- 40-yard dash: 5.60 seconds (in high school)
- Vertical jump: 22.7 inches (in high school)
- Stats: 38 starts over three seasons at three positions. He had 13 games at left guard (2019), 12 games at right tackle (2020) and, 13 games at left tackle (2021)
- Accolades & Awards: Consensus first-team All-American in 2021 by AFCA, FWAA, The Sporting News, and Walter Camp. 2019 Freshman All-America
The Draft Network: Neal uses his massive frame and power to move defenders off the line of scrimmage when run blocking. Neal excels at playing in a phone booth and uses his weight to wear defenders down. In his pass sets, he uses his body mass and length to force defenders to run around him and out of the way of the quarterback. This year, Neal made the transition from RT to LT which seems to be a successful one and one that seems more natural for him. He uses his natural spatial awareness to take away the inside move for defenders and force them around him. Neal has the natural skill set of a right tackle but seems more comfortable at left tackle. This versatility will give more value throughout the draft process and make him a day-one starter in the NFL.
NFL.com: Neal has some blemishes, but it's hard to find players who possess his combination of size, length and quickness. He plays with a nasty temperament and solid overall awareness. I believe there's a happy medium where he can maintain his violent play style while demonstrating a little more body control to avoid falling off blocks. He has the skill set of a 10-year starting right tackle.
Why Neal makes sense for the Jets
Joe Douglas has consistently emphasized the importance of the offensive line since taking the GM job. He already drafted first-rounders Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker in his first two drafts for the team as he continues to make over a previously struggling unit.
The Jets have had much better stability, chemistry, and cohesion from this group in 2021. However, this year also shows that you can never have too many quality linemen. Becton missed virtually the whole season with a knee injury, but the team’s newfound depth paid off as they managed to overcome that loss and several more absences later in the season.
While they may have bigger immediate needs, it wouldn’t be at all out of character for Douglas to further bolster this group with Neal, who is considered the most dominant offensive line prospect in the draft and a potential top-five pick.
George Fant played well in 2021 and is still under contract next year, but he’ll be 30 in July, so it might make sense for the Jets to shore up their longer-term future with a high pick.
Other than Becton himself, you won’t see many players with size to rival Neal’s 6-foot-7, 360-pound frame, and he also has an impressive body of work with solid pass protection numbers and consistent dominance in the running game. The only concern would be how he would fit into the Jets’ system, but a good combine workout would go a long way toward alleviating that concern.
Drafting Neal could be seen as an indictment on Becton and would perhaps be viewed by some as further proof that the Jets have concerns over his durability and work ethic. However, Neal projects to right tackle, where he started in 2020, so there’s no reason they couldn’t both be part of the future.
Why Neal makes sense for the Giants
With the assumption a new GM is in place for Big Blue, it will be a top priority for that new head of the front office to fix the offensive line -- for good this time. Dave Gettleman promised he’d build the trenches, but after four years, that hasn’t been the case.
If Neal were to fall to New York at their current draft spot, many would regard it as a steal. He’s a versatile lineman, having played both tackle positions and left guard in his college career. That proves how athletic he can be on the field and smart in the film room to learn his assignments year after year.
With Andrew Thomas planted at left tackle and showing big improvements compared to his rookie year, he should stay at that position for the time being. If Neal comes in, he immediately fits at right tackle and again, has the ability to move around if needed.
Also worth noting: Some scouting reports praise his run blocking compared to pass blocking. That would go a long way for Saquon Barkley, who will be on his fifth-year option with New York.
- The Draft Network: Ravens T Orlando Brown
- NFL.com: Former Chargers T Marcus McNeill