As soon as Alabama tackle Evan Neal stepped onto campus, you knew he was destined for greatness. In every 2022 NFL Mock Draft I’ve seen, he’s listed as a top-five pick. A unique blend of incredible and special athleticism, Neal is as much of a no-brainer pick as there’s ever been. Today, we look at where he’s projected — is there a chance he falls out of the top five in the 2022 NFL Draft?
NFL Mock Draft 2022: Evan Neal’s draft projections
Here’s the thing. Evan Neal’s 6’7″, 337 pounds. At Alabama, he played at around 360. There was no mistaking where he was on the field. That says something on a roster full of four- and five-star recruits who are also massive. Neal stood head and shoulders above everyone physically, but he also did so with his play.
Neal’s draft stock has fluctuated a little, but he’s never fallen out of the top five. Depending on who you ask, he’s the best in this class. At worst, he’s third. On Pro Football Network’s Top 300 Big Board, he’s the consensus No. 3 overall prospect. It just comes down to what Jacksonville wants to do. If they don’t take Neal, he shouldn’t fall far.
Did Neal’s draft stock change after the NFL Combine?
An argument could be made that not participating in the NFL Combine hurt Neal’s draft stock. Neal chose to forgo the Combine drills and just participated in the measurements, leaving room for guys like Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux to jump over him. Luckily, Neal will have the Alabama Pro Day to show teams what he can do.
We’ve already seen glimpses of his athleticism. He once stated that he could do a 48″ box jump. Then, there was this viral split box jump. His rare blend of size and athleticism makes him a coveted prospect. If you go back and watch the video, it’s effortless. He’s not laboring to make that jump, which shows the insane explosiveness he possesses. So, while his stock might have fallen after the Combine, teams won’t want to pass on him.
2022 NFL Mock Draft: PFN’s top consensus landing spots
I’ve yet to see a PFN 2022 NFL Mock Draft that’s dropped Evan Neal out of the top five. PFN Draft Director Cam Mellor dropped Neal in his latest 1-Round Mock Draft behind NC State’s OT Ikem Ekwonu. However, he sent Neal to the New York Giants with the fifth pick.
PFN Draft Analyst Oliver Hodgkinson also saw Neal falling, but only because the first two teams decided to take pass rushers. The Houston Texans took Neal with the third overall pick. Hodgkinson likes the fit, saying, “the Texans could plug the gargantuan offensive lineman in at right tackle opposite Laremy Tunsil to give Davis Mills the best opportunity to prove that he can be the future of the franchise.”
My last 2022 NFL Mock Draft had Jacksonville taking Neal with the first overall pick. It’s tough for me to see them justifying a selection that doesn’t involve protecting former first overall pick Trevor Lawrence. Adding Neal is a safe pick, but it might be a necessary one for a Jaguars team that needs to protect its most valuable asset better.
Where does Neal land on other draft boards?
Anyone covering the NFL Draft has Neal listed similarly to Pro Football Network. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler lists Neal as the third overall prospect on his big board. Interestingly enough, he also sees the Alabama product as the second-best tackle behind Ekwonu. In his latest mock draft, Brugler sent Neal to the Jets with the fourth overall pick.
Daniel Jeremiah also lists Neal as the second-best tackle in the class but has Neal fifth on his big board. In his latest mock draft, which was published before updating his board, he had the Jacksonville Jaguars selecting Neal with the first overall pick.
The volatility surrounding Neal’s stock remains low, hence why his “drops” don’t push him out of the top five. ESPN’s Mel Kiper sent Neal to the New York Giants with the fifth overall pick. However, Kiper’s colleague Todd McShay likes Neal going to Jacksonville first overall. So, while there might not be a consensus about where Neal lands in the top five, the only thing that would shock people is if he fell out of that range.