After the franchise-altering trade of Russell Wilson last month, the Seahawks hold a top 10 draft pick for the first time since 2010. Who might the Seahawks target with that No. 9 pick? In the countdown to the April 28 draft, we’ll profile the prospects who seem to make the most sense for the Seahawks in the first round.
Today’s pick: Evan Neal
Position: Offensive tackle
Career highlights: A five-star recruit rated as the No. 1 offensive lineman in the 2019 class, Neal has carried a “can’t-miss” label through two football factories — first at IMG Academy in Florida and then onto Alabama. He was an immediate hit with the Tide, starting 13 games at right guard as a true freshman. He was the starter at right tackle in 2020 and moved to left tackle in 2021.
Background: Here’s how Neal is described in a recent profile by ESPN’s Pete Thamel: Neal wears bookish glasses, drove a Dodge Ram around Alabama and was known at IMG to casually twirl snakes. His serious demeanor, everyman mentality and no-maintenance reputation are expected to travel to his NFL destination.
Why he might be a good fit for Seahawks: The Seahawks need an offensive tackle — they need two or three of them, really — and some rate Neal as the best tackle in this draft class. Many project Neal as a ready-made prospect who can start at either tackle spot immediately in the NFL.
Why he might not be a good fit for Seahawks: He might not be available at No. 9. ESPN’s Todd McShay has said Neal could be in play for Jacksonville at No. 1, and many project him as a top-three pick.
Fun fact: Neal ranked No. 1 last year on the “Freaks List” compiled by The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman before each college football season. Neal has bench pressed 475 pounds, squatted 650 and ran 18.5 mph on the GPS. “At his size, he is the most impressive lower body power athlete we have ever seen,” Alabama director of sports science Matt Rhea told Feldman. “His jumping power is in the top 1 percent we have ever measured. At 350 pounds, he routinely hits box jumps at 48 inches.”
Prospect quote: “Biggest thing I bring to a franchise is versatility.” — Neal
Scout’s quote: “The kid is a home run. He’s a no-brainer. If you need an offensive tackle at the top of draft, you’d be crazy not to take him. He’s going to start 10-plus years in that league and he’s going to be an All-Pro.” — Kyle Flood, Neal’s position coach at Alabama, via ESPN