With the 17th overall pick the Atlanta Falcons select… Keanu Neal. This draft will be remembered for who the Falcons passed up. Shaq Lawson, Reggie Raglan, Darron Lee, Myles Jack.
Florida strong safety Keanu Neal does fill a need for the Falcons, but did I tell you that the Falcons needed Linebacker help?? Did I mention that the Falcons picked Neal over Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson, Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland, Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee and UCLA linebacker Myles Jack. So did they fill a need yes. Did they pick the wrong guy in the 1st round. Yes! For a team that only got 17 Quarterback sacks last season they needed to go get a player that would “affect the QB” Neal is simply a hard-hitting safety that will play in the box. Neal was a player who was projected to be a 2nd pick. Was he the best player on the board for the Falcons when they picked???? I don’t think he was.
Now before I go all Rambo and tell you what a terrible pick this was, understand that Falcons Coach Dan Quinn wanted Neal. He believes this kid is a difference maker.
Will Neal be Steve Atwater? Who was 6’3 220 and a playmaker by the way. Will he be Troy Polamalu? Ed Reed who had 64 picks in his 12-year career. Will Neal be Kenny Houston who was 6’3 200 pounds who played with the Oilers and the Redskins and is in the Hall of Fame along with the others I have mentioned. If he turns out to be anything close to those guys then we will look back and praise Dan Quinn, but as of today this was a reach, The Falcons took a player in the 1st round that you could have taken in the 2nd or maybe even later.
Dan Quinn said “The strong safety position is a critical one for us and one that’s really valuable, You have to have the run-and-hit factor of playing a linebacker because we play our safeties so close to the line of scrimmage. He’s either in the box or close to the line. He also has to have the coverage skills to play safety, play on the tight ends and be a real factor on third downs.”
Keanu Neal thinks he fits what the Falcons want to do.Understand that Neal was partially recruited by Quinn before he left Florida to return to Seattle. Neal played special teams for the Gators as
Understand that Neal was partially recruited by Quinn before he left Florida to return to Seattle. Neal played special teams for the Gators as a freshmen in 2013. Dan Quinn wanted him and now he’s got him.
Neal is listed at 6-foot, 211-pound strong safety, who was the Gators’ third-leading tackler with 96 tackles and he had an interception. On my board Neal was the 3rd best safety behind Ohio State’s Vonn Bell and West Virginia’s Karl Joseph. Joseph was the 1st safety taken at 13th to the Raiders.
I think Neal’s cover skills are average, he is a big hitter, but many people around the NFL I spoke with prior to the draft told me they did not think he was a great tackler. He is a more In-the-box player.
The Falcons have the 50th pick in the second round, the 81st pick in the third, the 115th pick in the fourth and the 238th pick in the seventh. They needed linebacker help more in the 1st round than safety.
How much did the Falcons improve the defense last night? Versus the pass? Versus the run?
We will see?