26 Jan Evan Neal 2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report
Evan Neal was a 5-star recruit from Florida in the 2019 recruiting class and committed to Alabama as the #1 OT in the country. However, his first opportunity to start came at left guard during his freshman year; he then moved to right tackle as a sophomore and finally to left tackle as a junior. Despite the constant switching positions, he’s been highly successful throughout his short career, being named Freshman All-American in 2019, part of the unit that won the Joe Moore award in 2020, and earning consensus first-team All-American in 2021.
- Very good athletic profile with a rare mix of size and strength combined with more than solid movement skills
- Size and strength act as recovery tools; being elite in those areas makes him extremely difficult to beat unless he is completely out of position.
- Does an outstanding job staying square throughout pass protection reps; can quickly react to early inside moves and DL stunts.
- Maintains a good base in pass protection, allowing him to stay in control of his movement at all times.
- Plays with impressive body control and fluidity for a man his size. He does an exceptional job of consistently keeping his upper body married to his base. This translates into him being very stable in pass protection and easily reacting to moves.
- Has a very crisp first two kicks in his kick slide. Always reaches his spot on time and chooses his aiming points very well. This leads to many instant wins against worse pass rushers who aren’t able to work through contact.
- Keeps his hands under control in pass protection, allowing him to easily pre-position his hands when needed.
- Legit LT-RT versatility, having performed at quite a high level at both positions in recent years.
- Showcases excellent eye discipline, especially in the passing game. Eyes always get to where they are supposed to be, allowing him to recognize stunts and blitzes easily.
Areas to Improve:
- Currently, a pitcher with one pitch; being a primarily two-hand puncher works at the college level, but he will need to add more tools to his toolbox to succeed against NFL rushers.
- Footwork in the run game is an absolute disaster. First steps are all over the place, leading to poor body positions during his drive.
- Never gets into good body position when driving during run blocks; too often, he tries to drive the sled, which won’t fly against better opponents.
- Tends to fall apart after the turn in his kick slide; lets his base get bad, and isn’t particularly great in terms of hand fighting.
- Tends to overreact to moves; for example, will move to overhelp on the end on an E-T stunt, and as a result, be too far inside to pick up the looping tackle. Later in reps, this compounds with the bad base to leave him very out of position.
- Although the eyes get where you want them to be in pass protection, they can be a bit slow in doing so, which sometimes leads to him being late to IDing rushers.
- Power steps are pretty concerning. He tries to step vertically, which doesn’t fit his game and doesn’t work against better athletes. Struggles against inside moves as a result. Will have to react at more horizontal angles in the NFL.
- Isn’t quite where you want him to be in terms of movement skills to become a top-tier NFL tackle. His ceiling is hard-capped by that right now, but at the same time, there are a lot of things that suggest that his foot speed isn’t nearly as fast as it can be, such as his athletic testing, overall fluidity, and the fact he was already quicker at RT than at LT.
Evan Neal suffered an undisclosed injury in 2020, which did not cause him to miss any games. He also left the Arkansas game early in 2019 due to another undisclosed injury but returned the next week with no complications.
Evan Neal is a prospect that is easy to talk yourself into and difficult to talk yourself out of. This is because he combines top-tier recovery tools with excellent fundamentals, which lends itself to a tremendous rep-to-rep floor. Furthermore, almost all of his flaws are more nuance-driven, easily attributed to a lack of experience, fixable with time and coaching. The biggest thing is how you see him developing foot speed-wise. He’s got more than enough movement skills to be a legit NFL starter. Still, there’s a significant increase in the athletic requirement to go from solid to great when it comes to the tackle position; this leads to the question of whether or not you think he can pass that bar. Most evidence suggests he can, but it is still a projection.
Thanks to his size and technical groundwork in pass pro, Evan Neal can immediately function as a low-end starter. With time, he should add more nuance to his game and improve in the run game, turning himself into a solid NFL starter. With that being said, the team that drafts him will be convinced that they can see him improve in terms of raw quickness and footspeed on top of that growth from a technique standpoint, which should turn him into one of the best tackles in football.
Floor projection: Dion Dawkins
Ceiling: Jason Peters
Video scout with 2 seasons of experience at PFF, and 3 seasons as a game charter overall.
Received scouting training from of former Browns GM Phil Savage, and former Browns and Saints scout Matt Manocherian.
As a native Clevelander, all I want is for the Browns to win a Super Bowl as winning the Super Bowl with Browns in Madden 181 times still hasn’t filled the void.