Atlanta Falcons: How will Keanu Neal fit in the defense?

Apr 28, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Keanu Neal (Florida) Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 28, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Keanu Neal (Florida) Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

In the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons selected Keanu Neal, a defensive back from Florida. Neal can play all over the field for the Atlanta Falcons and he can do many different things to disrupt the offense.

Keanu Neal played mainly safety at Florida, where Falcons coach Dan Quinn recruited Neal to. Before Quinn became the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks, he was the defensive coordinator at Florida from 2011 through 2012. Neal played in all 12 games as a freshman in 2013. At Florida he improved each year, and with Quinn in Atlanta, he should do the same.

With the selection of Keanu Neal in the draft, the Atlanta Falcons addressed their need of a safety after William Moore left for free agency after last season. The Falcons were searching for a safety who could run and cover and come into the box as an extra linebacker and help stop the run. Neal will be used in many different ways and he will improve the Falcons defense overall.

The Hard-Hitter Mentality

With Neal being a little over six feet and around 210 pounds, he has the mentality of a bowling ball coming at a ball carrier in full force. Kam Chancellor was know for being the hard hitting safety on the Seahawks defense when Dan Quinn was there. Neal was known for being a hard hitter at Florida and being able to separate the ball carrier from the ball.

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In the Atlanta Falcons defense, Neal will be asked to roam the back end of the field and at times come into the box and stop the run. In the NFL, defensive players are asked to do more than one thing and be a versatile defender. Neal can bring that hard hitting mentality that has been missing from the Falcons defense.


Neal presents Dan Quinn a player that can defend against the run and the pass. As a junior, Neal recorded 94 tackles and although he only recorded one interception, he was up at the line of scrimmage most of the time. Neal also has the ability to cover both tight ends and receivers. He had one of the best 40 yard dash times at the NFL Combine among defensive backs.

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His speed is what sets him apart from other defensive backs and gives him the ability to play sideline to sideline and cover a lot of ground in a little amount of time. The Falcons defense will be better with him on the field and it will free up other players to excel at their specific assignments.

Verdict- Immediate Impact

Neal will be able to make an immediate impact on the Atlanta Falcons defense this year and he will be able to be coached up by Dan Quinn and Richard Smith. Both of them will be able to help Neal become one of the better safeties in the NFL.

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Neal will need to work on learning the defensive scheme and work on playing with the rest of the people around him. If he can do that, the Atlanta Falcons will have found a great player who will be a great fit to the defense.