Evan Neal was the big man at Alabama's pro day, and not just because of his towering physical presence.
The 6-foot-7, 337-pound left tackle was easily the highest-rated prospect working in front of representatives of all 32 NFL teams.
It didn't matter that he was just doing position drills, with Neal skipping the 40-yard dash Wednesday at the school's indoor practice facility in Tuscaloosa — just as he did earlier this month during the NFL combine in Indianapolis.
In three seasons with the Crimson Tide, Neal was a starter every year and played three different positions on the offensive line during that time. He's projected as a likely top-five pick in the draft, set for April 28-30 in Las Vegas, with some talk about becoming him becoming the program's first No. 1 overall pick since Harry Gilmer in 1948.
"It would mean everything, definitely," Neal said. "Coming from a school like this, you have a plethora of prospects that were worthy enough to be No. 1. For that to be me, that would be awesome for sure."
The NFL presence at Alabama's pro day included head coaches Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and Mike McCarthy of the Dallas Cowboys, along with Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert.
Whatever his draft position, Neal feels equipped to play guard or tackle at the next level. He started 13 games at left guard as a freshman, 12 at right tackle the following season — when the Tide won the national championship — and all 15 at left tackle this past season, when Alabama reached the College Football Playoff final.
"You could pretty much put me any place but center, and I could come in and make an impact," Neal said. "But I see myself as a left or right tackle."
Alabama coach Nick Saban believes Neal will do well in team interviews leading up to the draft, which will supplement his established size, athleticism and game video.
"He's a bright guy. He's articulate. He's got a great understanding of football," Saban said. "So he's going to continue to impress people, whether it's physically or mentally as they try to evaluate his skill set."
Alabama doesn't have its typical amount of highly rated draft-eligible talent this year after producing 21 first-round picks over the past five drafts, including six in 2021. The Tide's biggest stars — Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young and Nagurski Trophy-winning linebacker Will Anderson — will be juniors next season.
Besides Neal, wide receiver Jameson Williams is the other recent former Alabama player widely regarded as a first-round pick. Williams tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during January's loss to Georgia with the national championship on the line, a month or so after fellow receiver John Metchie had a similar injury in the Southeastern Conference title game in which Alabama defeated the Bulldogs.
Metchie and Williams did not participate in pro day drills, although linebacker Christian Harris, defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis, defensive back Jalyn Armour-Davis and running back Brian Robinson Jr. did.
Williams said he was given a time frame of five to seven months before getting fully cleared and believes he's ahead of schedule. The goal is to be ready for training camp this summer.
"That's what I'm shooting for, but what overrules that is just me making sure I'm 100% before I do anything," Williams told NFL Network at pro day.
Alabama team physician Lyle Cain, who performed the operations on both receivers, said recently he believes they should be able to run routes and otherwise participate in camps.
Cain told The Associated Press that "whether they play this season or how much they play this season probably depends on the team that drafts them, how the team decides to handle their situation."