There has been a lot of coverage around the LA Chargers leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft and one name that has not been talked about at all is Evan Neal. Neal is one of the elite prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft and with the 17th overall pick, the Chargers were well out of range to land the Alabama tackle.
However, new rumors have emerged around teams potentially medically failing Neal and removing him from their draft boards. When something like this emerges right before the draft, it is possible that a prospect that many viewed as a top prospect actually falls in the draft.
Peter King confirmed these suspicions in his weekly column, stating that there was chatter that some teams are downgrading Neal on their board because of potential medical concerns. However, King does say that three-quarters of the league is "good with his health".
While it is still a long shot, it is no longer impossible that Evan Neal falls to the Chargers with the 17th pick. All it takes is a few teams at the top being worried about his health and taking other tackles instead. There is a world in which both Ikey Ekwonu and Charles Cross are taken ahead of Neal for this reason and it would not be that absurd (although for my money's worth Neal is the best tackle in the class).
If there is one team that makes the dumb decision of taking Trevor Penning over Neal then suddenly it opens the door for Neal to fall. Any team that takes Penning over Neal should just give up their first-round pick but we have seen worse decisions in the NFL Draft before.
If Evan Neal does somehow fall to the LA Chargers at 17 it should not even be a conversation.
I am firmly in the camp that the Chargers are going to draft a cornerback in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft but that would obviously change if Neal were to somehow fall to the team. The depth at corner could be addressed later, the Chargers would be getting another franchise tackle to add to the offensive line.
The Bolts would instantly have the best young tackle duo in the entire league with Rashawn Slater and Evan Neal. Slater very well could be an All-Pro in 2022 and Neal has legitimate All-Pro potential. Talk about a great way to protect Justin Herbert.
Heck, I would not even be opposed to the team moving up for Neal. If he does somehow fall to, say, the 12th overall pick and the Chargers can trade a future second and some late-round capital to move up and take him then they should do that. This is an elite prospect who should be taken in the top five.
Will this happen? Most likely not. But if there is one thing the NFL Draft reminds us every single year it is to expect the unexpected.