No moment too big for Evan Neal

Having this professional experience in the family has helped Neal prepare for a career in the NFL, both mentally and physically. The young tackle was very dependable while playing at Alabama, and as an offensive lineman, that is just about the best thing you can offer your team.

“The most impressive thing about Evan’s game is his consistency,” Flood explained. “He never needed the opponent. It wasn’t about the opponent. It was about his level of play. You try to get every player to that space and you can’t always do it. Some players just need the opponent to get them to play at the highest level and get the most emotion out of them. But that’s not Evan. Evan plays to his level all the time. He does not need the opponent for that. To me, that’s the most impressive thing about him as a player, is his ability to play on that consistent basis at a really high level, with great emotion. Those are things as a coach that you’re constantly looking for or constantly trying to train into your players.”

Neal started for three seasons at Alabama and the only game he ever missed was due to COVID. Durability and availability are paramount in the NFL, so those traits will serve Neal well at the next level.

“Evan is a guy that does not like to miss. He doesn’t miss practice, he doesn’t miss games,” Flood said. “Even the game he had to miss because of COVID my second year there, he ended up starting the SEC Championship game without ever practicing because he became eligible after that window he had to sit out the day before the game. All he had was one walk-through and he had to play in the SEC Championship Game, and played really well that game. Evan absolutely can fight through discomfort, which in that league for a lineman, you’re going to have to do that. But that’s something he’s already trained to do.”

The transition from college to the NFL is a difficult one for any player, but it certainly helps when you have a familiar face to lean on, especially during the early days. For Neal, that face is Xavier McKinney, as the two played together at Alabama during the 2019 campaign.

“I think that always helps. ‘X’ was a great teammate,” Flood said about McKinney assisting Neal. “For me as an offensive coach, ‘X’ was a lot of fun to compete against at practice. He just is a really great human being first, and certainly an excellent football player and somebody who you always want that guy in your locker room. I think that helps… And I’m sure those other linemen are going to kind of take him under their wings as well and kind of show him the ropes.”

Despite spending most of his coaching career at the collegiate level, Flood also served as the assistant offensive line coach with the Atlanta Falcons in 2017-18. During that time, he helped lead two linemen to standout performances: left tackle Jake Matthews made the Pro Bowl in 2018, while Alex Mack was a Pro Bowler both years and a 2017 second-team All-Pro.

“I was fortunate to coach in that league for a couple years, so I got the chance to be around some good players. I really believe Evan’s got a really, really high ceiling in that league,” Flood insisted. “It’s much more about the person than it is anything else. He’s wired right, he has the right work ethic already built into him. I just think he’s going to be great in that league.”

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