Alabama Football: The Tide’s next franchise left tackle

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Alabama football has a tradition of having franchise tackles

Outside of quarterback, left tackle is easily the most important position in football. Having a weak lineman protecting your blind side can stifle even the best offenses in college football. Alabama football has taken pride in churning out great linemen in general, but the left tackle position has been a key focus in recent years.

Cam Robinson is still starting for the Jacksonville Jaguars after being drafted in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Jonah Williams was taken in the first round by the Bengals. Despite Jedrick Wills playing right tackle for the Crimson Tide, he has proven to be a cornerstone for the Cleveland Browns on the left side. Alex Leatherwood came back for another season, and he will be playing for the Raiders after starting for two seasons at left tackle.

Now, it’s time for a new era for Alabama football’s offensive line. That comes with a new player ready to be the Tide’s next franchise left tackle. His name is Evan Neal, and he’s ready for the challenge. 

Neal has moved around the line as an underclassman, and that’s usually a good sign for linemen. It proved his versatility, but it also shows his talent. To put it simply, he was too good to keep on the bench. Even if Alabama had great tackles, he was still a great guard.

Neal was a right tackle in 2020, and he helped earn Alabama football the Joe Moore Award. This trophy goes to the best offensive line each season. While Landon Dickerson and Leatherwood received most of the praise, Neal deserves credit for dominating at right tackle.

As a junior, Neal will finally get a chance to play his natural position. He’s always had the size, but he’s spent the past two seasons perfecting his technique. He has an entire offseason to get used to playing on the left side again, but he has experience in high school doing just that.

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Fans will likely only see Neal play for one year at left tackle. If Neal lives up to the hype, he will be a first-round lock in the 2022 NFL Draft. Whoever takes him will be getting another cornerstone from the Tide’s offensive line.