Jacksonville could go in several directions with the first overall pick in the upcoming 2022 NFL draft, but there seems to be a clear favorite for the pick: Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal.
Neal is one of the better tackle prospects in recent years, and for a team with lots of needs and in a class that doesn’t have a clear elite player at the top, it would be a very solid pick.
It could be even more than solid, though. Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay identified Neal as the team’s “dream target” in the draft. Here’s what he said about Neal as a prospect.
The Jaguars used the top overall pick on Trevor Lawrence last year and should have no qualms about using this year’s No. 1 selection to protect their investment.
Evan Neal looks to be the clear-cut choice here, as he is not only the top offensive tackle prospect in the class but arguably the best overall player on the board.
Neal can excel on either side of the offensive line thanks to his 6’7″, 350-pound frame and incredible mobility, power and technique.
Among the many elite OL qualities this 21-year-old possesses, Neal’s footwork and hand placement stand out as something to be admired. He’s the ideal prospect to entrust Lawrence’s blindside with.
Considering Lawrence was sacked 32 times and pressured on 151 of his dropbacks, the quarterback will be in great hands if Jacksonville makes Neal the top pick.
Incumbent left tackle Cam Robinson is set to hit free agency next month after playing out the 2021 campaign on a franchise tag. The Jags can afford to let him go, having peace of mind from knowing Neal will soon be on the way.
Building around Lawrence on offense is the team’s top priority at the moment, and taking Neal would give the Jaguars a player to man the left tackle spot for (hopefully) years to come. Other options like an edge rusher in Aidan Hutchinson could work out well, but it’s not the most important position of need.
There’s a lot of time for the Jags to decide what to do with the pick, and it will almost certainly depend on the decision the team makes with current left tackle Cam Robinson, who played under the franchise tag in 2021.
In this week’s episode of “Touchdown Jaguars!”we looked at the top needs for the Jags heading into the NFL Combine. Progressing forward, we will continue to put out weekly episodes, giving Jags Wire readers a new go-to podcast, which will discuss the latest in news, rumors, and more. To stay up to date, subscribe via Apple Podcasts and Spotify, and also feel free to rate and comment.