NFL Draft 2022: Will Rumored Knee And Hip Issues Drop Evan Neal Out Of The Top 10?
A day ahead of the NFL Draft, projected top-10 pick Evan Neal reportedly has questions surrounding his sustainability in the league.
Anonymous teams have raised knee and hip issues and flagged the three-year starter as a medical risk, according to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer and Charlie Campbell of Walterfootball.com.
After a review of his career medical history, the Pro Football Docs haven’t discovered any significant medical concerns that would cause Neal to drop in Thursday’s Draft.
Sports Injury Central has detailed multiple medical issues that may cause such drops, notably Justyn Ross’ concerning neck injury, but the alleged concerns over Neal’s size, weight, and knees do not qualify.
The 6’7,” 350-pound wrecking ball could have some early lateral compartment arthritic change, a degenerative knee condition that may impact Neal’s success down the road, but that is not something that would affect his availability or dominance during his rookie contract.
“A decade or more ago, teams would draft players – especially on the offensive line – for 10, 12 or 15-year careers,” said Dr. David Chao, an orthopedic surgeon with extensive NFL Draft experience during his time with the Chargers. “That's really not the case anymore. Most GMs want players that can finish their rookie contract in a healthy manner.”
Neal was a beacon of durability in Tuscaloosa, starting 40 games at three different positions across his three years including 15 starts at left tackle in 2021. He missed just one game in his Alabama career after testing positive for COVID-19.
If he is truly evaluated as more talented than someone else, regardless of these potential issues, he will get drafted at that spot.
Neal's camp has denied that there are “any medical risks” with him and pointed to the fact he was not requested to visit the re-check combines.
While the latter part is true, the re-check combines are for developing medical issues. Chronic medical issues, like Neal is rumored to have, would be checked thoroughly at the regular combine and would not require a second visit.