For a while, Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal was a favorite to go No. 1 to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2022 NFL Draft. However, Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson became the most likely candidate to be the pick after the Jags applied the franchise tag on Cam Robinson.
Having said that, the Jaguars shouldn’t dismiss the idea of taking Neal with the first overall selection even though they have Robinson and sophomore Walker Little in the fold. After all, Neal dominated Alabama’s Pro Day, showing the kind of athletic prowess that helped him become one of the top offensive tackles at the collegiate level in 2021 and a strong candidate to go first overall.
Here are three reasons why Jaguars shouldn’t dismiss taking Evan Neal with the top selection in this year’s draft.
1. The Jaguars will have leeway to negotiate with Cam Robinson.
Cam Robinson is set to play under the franchise tag in 2022 unless he and the Jaguars’ brass agree to a long-term deal. General manager Trent Baalke has expressed his desire to work out a multi-year extension and the tag will give the team some breathing room to negotiate.
Having Evan Neal on the roster would give the Jaguars some flexibility in case negotiations with Robinson go awry. They could have the former Alabama standout line up at guard and move him to tackle if they can’t strike a deal with Robinson.
Also, Neal would give the Jaguars insurance in case Robinson has to miss time with injuries, as they could easily plug him in at left tackle, having played there last season.