2022 NFL Draft odds: Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal declares, closing gap betting-wise on Kayvon Thibodeaux, Aidan Hutchinson to be first overall pick

Alabama has lost another top player to the 2022 NFL Draft.
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In no surprise, Alabama All-American offensive tackle Evan Neal announced Thursday that he would forego his senior season in Tuscaloosa and enter the 2022 NFL Draft. A few weeks ago, Neal was a +1000 longer shot to be the No. 1 overall pick, but now that the Jacksonville Jaguars officially own that he's down to +275 behind pass-rushers Aidan Hutchinson of Michigan and Kayvon Thibodeaux of Oregon, who are both +105.

Do the Jaguars need defensive help? Absolutely. That unit ranked 28th this season in allowing 26.9 points per game and no player had more than the 7.5 sacks by Josh Allen. Either Thibodeaux or Hutchinson would be a terrific second pass-rushing option to Allen.

However, the Jaguars' most important asset is quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who had a very uneven rookie season. Part of that was playing behind a terrible offensive line as Lawrence was sacked 32 times. Left tackle Cam Robinson, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft also from Alabama, played in 2021 on the franchise tag and thus will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Walker Little, a second-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, started the final two games of the season at left tackle with Robinson on reserve/COVID-19 and acquitted himself well.

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. lists Neal as his top offensive tackle and third-best prospect overall. Neal is also the top offensive lineman on the CBS Sports Big Board and the No. 6 overall prospect behind Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton, LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., Thibodeaux, Hutchinson and Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum.

The 6-foot-7, 350-pound Neal made 40 starts over his three seasons at Alabama, 13 games at left guard in 2019, 12 at right tackle in 2020 and 15 at left tackle in 2021. He accounted for a team-high 34 knockdown blocks this season and was a semifinalist for the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award. Neal earned an 80.7 pass-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus, surrendering just two sacks and 19 pressures over 650 pass-blocking snaps, and an 80.4 mark as a run blocker. He was also a team captain.

CBS Sports NFL Draft experts Chris Trapasso and Josh Edwards have Neal going No. 1 overall to the Jaguars in their latest mock drafts. The last offensive lineman chosen No. 1 overall was Eric Fisher out of Central Michigan by Kansas City in 2013. He had made two Pro Bowls in his career but hasn't really lived up to being the top pick. 

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