Jaguars take Evan Neal over Aidan Hutchinson in recent mock draft

Carlos Sanchez
Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman Evan Neal (73) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman Evan Neal (73) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Jacksonville Jaguars’ rebuild in 2021 didn’t go the way they expected. Even though they won two more games than 2020, they showed they still have plenty of work to do before they can compete in the AFC South and clinched the first overall pick for the second consecutive year. While they will have several prospects to choose from, Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal has been linked to them in several mock drafts, including CBS Sports’ most recent one.

Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports sees the Jags taking Neal and Aidan Hutchinson going to the Detroit Lions in his latest mock draft. While he doesn’t think the Florida native is the best clear-cut best prospect in the class, he praises his mammoth size and insane athleticism. Trapasso believes that the Jaguars need to do a better job of protecting Trevor Lawrence than they did last year. Surprisingly, Oregon defensive end Kayvon Hutchinson slides to the Atlanta Falcons at number eight.

Bruce Feldman of The Athletic named Neal the “most physically gifted athlete in college football entering this past season“. Moreover, Alabama head coach Nick Saban spoke highly of his former player, via Feldman.

"This guy does just about everything that you would like for the best players in your program to do to set a good example for other players."

Even Neal would improve the Jaguars’ O-Line regardless of where he played.

Left tackle Cam Robinson had a strong performance in 2021, surrendering just one sack and 31 total pressures, the lowest mark in his career outside of 2018, when he played just two games. He’s scheduled to become a free agent and if he’s re-signed, the Jaguars may not have much use for Neal.

The Jags could still draft the Alabama offensive tackle first overall even if they bring back Robinson but they would then have him line up at right tackle or even right guard but if that’s the case, they would be better off locking up Robinson and drafting Hutchinson, who is their pick in Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft.

The Jaguars also have Walker Little in the fold, and he finished the 2021 season on a strong note, so they may be included to take Hutchinson or Thibodeaux instead. Having said that, it will be a while before the Jags zero in on their choice for the top pick. One thing they won’t have to worry about is the quarterback position due to the presence of Trevor Lawrence. The front office needs to help him this offseason and if they think Neal would do a better job than Robinson protecting his blind side, they need to take him first overall.

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