Ratings for Alabama football offensive tackle Evan Neal are easy to find ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Few are better informed than this one, however.
“Amazing feet strong as an ox,” reads the review. “There really isn’t much that Evan can’t do. I think where he’s grown over the years is his intelligence. You can see the progression since the first year he was left guard. Then last year, he was right tackle. Now he is left tackle. He has experience on both sides of the pitch in multiple positions, and he’s starting to take that second- and third-tier learning so that he can progress in his game to not only help himself now, but also to improve himself. help in the future. Evan is going to be a top five pick and he’s also a good person, so that just adds to his character.
The project analyst? Alabama offensive lineman Chris Owens.
He was on the podium speaking to reporters last October when asked to rate his teammate’s play. Owens looked like a scout.
It is not a coincidence. He aspires to one day be the general manager of the NFL. Ahead, however, Owens is chasing his NFL dreams as a player, going through the draft process as he hopes to hear his name called in late April.
Versatility is perhaps its best selling point. He played center, guard and tackle at Alabama, although he projects as an inside lineman.
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His knowledge of every location has allowed the coaching staff to look to him in every position during his six years at Tuscaloosa, where he was also a 2021 semi-finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, known as of Heisman Academic Trophy.
His intelligence will serve him well, however, long after his playing career is over. His curiosity for football has been the basis of his career and will be an important fuel for his future roles in football.
“I still watch a lot of football,” Owens said. “I’m always going to watch people’s film. Obviously I have Evan as my best tackle. But I also want to see what other tackles look like, and I want to see what’s out there and what people are watching. Then I realize: Wait, I’m in that same draft class. I am also part of this process.
This time of year has always been among his favorite times of year in the Madden football video game. This is where his GM dreams began.
He played Madden for years. Owens did his homework while still in school, so when he came home he could play Madden.
“If he had free time, I didn’t have to worry about him doing anything else,” said his mother, Sequin Owens. “He was always on this (damn) game.”
He was focused on building a franchise. Owens has always enjoyed reaching the offseason in Madden. He wanted to see who would re-sign with him, who he should extend, and what personnel changes he should make on the virtual roster he had built.
“There would be years where I wouldn’t even play the season,” Owens said. “I would just fake the offseason and worry about rebuilding the team, and when I finally built a Super Bowl team, I played in the Super Bowl.”
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Speaking of Super Bowls, the Saints championship in the 2009 season has heightened interest. The way New Orleans put the team together to win the Super Bowl fascinated him, having first lived in Louisiana before moving to Texas.
“I’m just starting to understand the little nuanced side of football,” Owens said, “that’s kind of where it really started to pique my interest.”
However, he has always been curious about football. When Owens was a child, his mother would often discover him falling asleep in her bed at night while studying textbooks. Seriously.
He also watched a lot of football. After his pee games ended at 9 a.m., he watched college football on Saturdays. Then he would watch NFL football all day with his mother on Sundays.
When Owens started playing fantasy football, he watched even more. His audience has grown from following one team to just about every team.
And when he first got an iPod, he turned to YouTube to see more movies.
High school also sparked an increased interest in studying the NFL. Switching positions himself, he wanted to see how prevalent displacement was among the pros.
“I started noticing, OK, teams maybe carry seven offensive linemen because they have two linemen who can play both sides or play multiple positions,” Owens said. “And they have one of those guys who can play center. I realized that for me to get to where I want to be, being versatile is probably going to be the most marketable thing for me and will be the best thing for the team.
That was the case for Owens in Alabama, and it will be the case in the NFL.
And don’t be surprised if he leads your favorite NFL team on the road. But first, he’s giving everything he can to his dream of playing in the pros.
That day, when Owens spoke in October and shared his GM aspirations, a reporter asked what Owens would ask potential NFL quarterbacks if he was leading a team.
“Can we get back to this in maybe 10+ years?” said Owens. “I don’t know if I’m ready for that one right now. I’m just a little worried about this season and this week.