In a move that has long been expected, Alabama left tackle Evan Neal announced that he will enter the 2022 NFL Draft. Neal, a junior, started every game at left tackle for the Crimson Tide in 2021, protecting the blind side of Heisman winner Bryce Young.

“I thank my family, my mom and dad, and every single coach and fan who has supported me throughout my collegiate career,” said Neal in his announcement. “Though this season didn’t end with the outcome my brothers and I were hoping for, this year 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. I’m deeply grateful to all the fans that showed up every Saturday to cheer us on, to my conches who encouraged me daily to push myself, and to my loved ones who have had my back through every high and low — you all have helped me become a better player and a better person.”

Neal, a consensus First-Team All-America selection this season, is the highest-rated offensive tackle in the CBSSports’ 2022 NFL Draft prospect rankings and the No. 6 player overall. CBS Sports NFL Draft experts Chris Trapasso and Josh Edwards have Neal going No. 1 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars in their latest mock drafts, while Ryan Wilson has Neal going to the New York Jets with the fourth pick.

Here’s what Neal’s announcement means for his draft status as well as Alabama’s future in the trenches. 

Where Neal projects in the NFL

As mentioned above, two of CBS Sports’ NFL Draft experts have Neal going No. 1 overall in their latest mocks, while another has Neal going fourth — behind another tackle in NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu. Odds are those kinds of…

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