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2022 NFL Draft Preview: Alabama Crimson Tide Offensive Tackle Evan Neal

One of the few things Nick Saban hasn't done at Alabama is have a player selected first in the NFL draft. Could Evan Neal be the first?

It makes sense that the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have the first selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, would want to use it to help protect last year's first-overall pick, quarterback Trevor Lawrence. 

It also makes sense that that Jaguars would use the selection to grab a pass-rusher. 

Of course, after finishing 3-14 last season and not being a player or two away from the playoffs, trading down would probably be ideal. However, there probably aren't many other teams looking to pay the price to move up. 

So what's Jacksonville going to do? At this point, your guess is as good as anyone's else's, although Alabama tackle Evan Neal is certainly in the mix along with North Carolina State tackle Ickey Ekwonu. 

As of Sunday night, SI Sportsbook had the odds listed for the fist pick at: 

  1. Aidan Hutchinson -200
  2. Trayvon Walker +160
  3. Ikem Ekwonu +1200
  4. Evan Neal  +1600

Neal was the latest in long line of five-star prospects who helped anchor the Crimson Tide's offensive line under Nick Saban. The coach has never had a Crimson Tide players selected first overall in the draft, but might have the two frontrunners next year between quarterback Bryce Young and linebacker Will Anderson Jr. 

Out of IMG Academy in Florida, Neal started as a true freshman in 2019, at right guard, and ended up being named to the SEC All-Freshman Team. He moved to right tackle in 2020, when undefeated Alabama won the national championship. At left tackle last season, Neal was voted a team captain, started 15 games, was named All-SEC and second-team All-American.  

Per NFL.com, two of his uncles played football with the Miami Hurricanes and in the NFL: running back Cleveland Gary (first-round pick of the Rams in 1989) and defensive lineman Jimmie Jones (third-round pick of Dallas in 1990, where he won two Super Bowls).

Alabama offensive lineman Chris Owens (79) and Alabama offensive lineman Evan Neal (73) work through a drill for NFL scouts during the University of Alabama s Pro Day at Hank Crisp Indoor Facility.
Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman Evan Neal during the NFL Scouting Combine at the Indiana Convention Center.
Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman Evan Neal (73) celebrates the win over the Cincinnati Bearcats after the 2021 Cotton Bowl college football CFP national semifinal game at AT&T Stadium.
Evan Neal and Javion Cohen at Florida
Evan Neal against Ole Miss
Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman Evan Neal (73) against the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2022 CFP college football national championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman Evan Neal (73) puts the old leather helmet on head coach Nick Saban at Mercedes-Benz Stadium after defeating the Miami Hurricanes.
Alabama offensive lineman Evan Neal (73) blocks New Mexico State linebacker Ja'Marvin Hartfield (12) as Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) throws during the first half of Alabama's 62-10 victory over New Mexico State in Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday, Sep. 7, 2019

Draft Day 1

  • What: Round 1
  • When: Thursday, April 28
  • Time: 7 p.m. CT
  • TV: NFL Network, ABC, ESPN, ESPN Deportes (es)
  • Mobile and CTV: NFL, ESPN
  • Web: NFL.com, ABC.go.com, ESPN.com
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Draft Day 2

  • What: Rounds 2-3
  • When: Friday, April 29
  • Time: 6 p.m.
  • TV: NFL Network, ABC, ESPN, ESPN Deportes (es)
  • Mobile and CTV: NFL, ESPN
  • Web: NFL.com, ABC.go.com, ESPN.com

Draft Day 3

  • What: Rounds 4-7
  • When: Saturday, April 30
  • Time: 11 a.m.
  • TV: NFL Network, ABC, ESPN, ESPN Deportes (es)
  • Mobile and CTV: NFL, ESPN
  • Web: NFL.com, ABC.go.com, ESPN.com

BamaCentral will profile each of the former Crimson Tide players expected to be selected in the 2022 NFL Draft. This is the eighth story in the series:

Christopher Allen

Jalyn Armour-Davis

Slade Bolden

Christian Harris

Josh Jobe

Phidarian Mathis 

John Metchie III