Another one of the projected top picks in the 2022 NFL draft has turned pro. Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal, arguably the top offensive linemen in the country, has declared for the draft, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link).
Neal, a true junior, has been a starter since his arrival in Tuscaloosa. At 6-foot-7, 360 pounds, his size and frame are certainly NFL-ready. He projects well as a powerful right tackle who could be dominant in the run game with his size and strength, though he started every game at left tackle this season. He earned a PFF grade of 84.5 in 2021.
Neal’s status as the top blocker in this year’s class may be challenged by NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu, but he is generally seen as the No.1 option, and rarely projected to be picked later than third overall. Some have Neal in the conversation to go first overall, being selected ahead of consensus top pass rushers Kayvon Thibodeaux and Aidan Hutchinson. Given the Jaguars’ need for help along the offensive line, Neal certainly wouldn’t be the most surprising name to be taken at the top of the board.
In a tweet, Neal said in part, “I thank my family, my mom and dad, and every single coach and fan who has supported me throughout my collegiate career… This season was incredible and I will forever remember all that it took to get us there. Playing football at the highest level was always my goal and to be able to do that at the University of Alabama has been a dream come true… Thank you to every single person who supported me during my time at Alabama”.