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Steelers Scouting Report - Keanu Neal


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One of the hot names right now when it comes to the upcoming NFL draft is Florida safety Keanu Neal. Word is he has been invited to attend the 2016 NFL draft, which often indicates that enough teams have shown an interest that he’s a solid bet to be drafted in the first two rounds. The chatter is that there’s a chance that Neal could find his way to the end of the first round.

And the end of the first round means the Pittsburgh Steelers could be in play. There’s no doubt the Steelers need a safety, so it goes without saying that he will be in play for Pittsburgh. But should he be? It seems like in recent years there is always that one safety that makes a late push and finds themselves on the back end of the first round. In 2014 is was Jimmie Ward. In 2013 is was Matt Elam. And last season is was Damarious Randall.

I had a chance to dive into Neal’s game to see if he’d be a good fit for the Steelers, and is he a value choice at No. 25.

Measurables

Height: 6-foot-0

Weight: 211 pounds

40-yard dash: 4.62 seconds

Vertical Jump: 38.0 inches

What I like: There’s no doubt that Neal is a hammer. He gets downhill in a hurry, and for better or worse finishes every tackle like the guy took the last slice of pizza. His speed on the field looks better than what he’s shown on the stopwatch, which shows true with his explosion in the vertical jump. His closing speed is excellent, and he will punish the ball carrier.

What I don’t like: Neal is raw. I’m not sure where all the talk of his coverage skills come from, but all I see is a read-and-react type of player that is relying more on his athleticism to get to the ballcarrier as opposed to a player with instincts that can anticipate the play and take a good angle to it. If all you watch are Neal’s highlight reel, you might miss the missteps he takes and the poor coverage angles he takes.

In the final analysis, Neal feels like a player that teams and fans are banking on to become much more than his athleticism. At this point, he’s probably not an NFL free safety, and couldn’t be counted on to play single high consistently. Because of this, I cannot endorse him for the Steelers.

They need to find a way to get Mike Mitchell out of that role and into more of a strong safety, not force him to stay back all the time. Neal is going to make some team a solid strong safety, but in a down safety class, his value seems to be inflated.

 

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2 minutes ago, falconcrest58 said:

Or other words we should've of taken Shaq Lawson since our pass rush sucks

Yeah, that was who I wanted. Some how I get this sinking feeling that the Falcons will be picking closer to the number 1 spot in the draft this coming year. The Falcons front seven needs to pick it up this year.

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1 minute ago, high impact said:

Yeah, that was who I wanted. Some how I get this sinking feeling that the Falcons will be picking closer to the number 1 spot in the draft this coming year. The Falcons front seven needs to pick it up this year.

I sure hope not but then again our schedule is murders row

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5 minutes ago, high impact said:

Yeah, that was who I wanted. Some how I get this sinking feeling that the Falcons will be picking closer to the number 1 spot in the draft this coming year. The Falcons front seven needs to pick it up this year.

Because we picked neal instead of a pass rusher?? Rookie rushers typically don't have a huge impact so I've been told.  

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Wow you found a negative scounting report and posted it and now all of sudden Neal is a horrible pick? He is a perfect player for what we need in our defense. Please stop with this garbage. He is our pick how about we try to support it. He is a falcon now. #Riseup

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Just now, Falcon918 said:

Wow you found a negative scounting report and posted it and now all of sudden Neal is a horrible pick? He is a perfect player for what we need in our defense. Please stop with this garbage. He is our pick how about we try to support it. He is a falcon now. #Riseup

I like the pick. Cravens and Neal has been my top two choices at SS the whole time.

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4 minutes ago, falconidae said:

Yeah, cause a bleacher report writer's article  has so much weight. You realize Lawson needs shoulder surgery, right?

Thank you. Nailed the two points I wanted to make...
A. this assessment isn't exactly reliable
B. neither is Lawson's shoulder

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Well I kinda felt the Falcons were not going DE or LB in the first. With Clayborn playing DE and Upshaw and Spoon being picked up in FA. I just think Neal could have been had a bit later in the draft. Just don't know if the Falcons would get the option to trade back any to pick him up. So it is what it is. 

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So, they say they wouldn't endorse him for free safety for the Steelers, which makes him a bad pick for us? 

He's going to play STRONG safety for us and our scheme fits his strengths and weaknesses very well.

Not sure why this is particularly relevant. We're not going to be asking him to play single high, so him not being a great fit there doesn't hurt much. We ARE going to ask him to patrol the middle of the field and make people afraid of going over the middle, which is what he does best. Round peg, round hole. What's the problem?

***Aside - not that it really matters, but out of curiosity, did anyone else's post count change? Mine seems to have lost about 10,000 or so.

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10 minutes ago, EVIL Dan Quinn said:

Because we picked neal instead of a pass rusher?? Rookie rushers typically don't have a huge impact so I've been told.  

Yeah so now we are looking at two more years without an improvement in the pass rush. I am ok with what ever they do in the draft. I just won't be happy until I see this team get after the QB. So how is the pass rush going to be this year?

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You are aware last year  the Steelers often dropped both safeties way off the LOS in cover 2 often and we play a 3 deep zone where our SS plays up near the line and will pick up a RB or TE in coverage on passing.  Totally a different the way each defense uses their SS. Sure, if I were Steelers I would not have wanted him either in 1st round as he's not a perfect scheme fit as he is here in Atlanta.

i don't think many fans have any understanding of the importance our defense places on having a versitile SS that can not only square up and make explosive, sure tackles near the line to prevent cheap yards and cheap 1st downs being picked up, but also who has the hip movement and athleticism  to cover TEs and RBs coming out of the backfield. This was one of the weakest parts of our defense last year.

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6 minutes ago, high impact said:

Yeah so now we are looking at two more years without an improvement in the pass rush. I am ok with what ever they do in the draft. I just won't be happy until I see this team get after the QB. So how is the pass rush going to be this year?

One more year under the scheme, Beasley healthy and one year older, better coverage allowing a little more time rather than dumping to the TE with this draft pick, it wont be substantial, but it'll improve. 

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1 minute ago, WhenFalconsWin said:

I wanted Lawson, I have been on record for quite sometime saying that.  That being said, I see the need for the safety position and I will support it 100%.  Now I just hope Neal proves me wrong and I hope Lawson doesn't tear up the league.  

It does seem like that shoulder was a legit concern for a lot of teams. Time will tell just how much of a factor it really is.

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1 minute ago, high impact said:

Yeah so now we are looking at two more years without an improvement in the pass rush. I am ok with what ever they do in the draft. I just won't be happy until I see this team get after the QB. So how is the pass rush going to be this year?

That assumes players already on the roster- like Beasley, Jarrett and Hageman won't get better.

Pass rush will be  better, the vets all have another year in the scheme, Beasley is primed to make a leap, as is Jarrett, they improved the run D so that they have more 3rd and 8s, they just drafted a guy who is going to make going over the middle much more dangerous,. Real wild card is Hageman- he was raw coming in, lots of pass rushers really take off in their 3rd year [ Like Kerney did], if the light comes on, Falcons D takes a leap.

 

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2 minutes ago, WhenFalconsWin said:

 

 

Apparently so.  Although he still went 19th to the Bills and Rex knows defense.  

Yeah, I read something from their GM saying he wasn't concerned because Lawson checked out ok with their medical staff. However, it was mentioned that while he is fully expected to play a ton & be a starter this year, he very likely could need to have surgery after the season & spend 4-6 months rehabbing after that.

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3 minutes ago, falconidae said:

That assumes players already on the roster- like Beasley, Jarrett and Hageman won't get better.

Pass rush will be  better, the vets all have another year in the scheme, Beasley is primed to make a leap, as is Jarrett, they improved the run D so that they have more 3rd and 8s, they just drafted a guy who is going to make going over the middle much more dangerous,. Real wild card is Hageman- he was raw coming in, lots of pass rushers really take off in their 3rd year [ Like Kerney did], if the light comes on, Falcons D takes a leap.

 

This^^^^^^

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he was scouting him as a single hjgh safety Neal in our scheme will be close to the Los worrying about running backs tight ends and blitzing. Once he gets his instincts then he might be in that polamalu role where be basically free lances and goes single high when hisngut tells him. But for our scheme we have big balls to play free safety.

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Just now, WhenFalconsWin said:

How bad is it if he can play?  Beasley played pretty well with his shoulder.  I mean, there is always risk with injuries or getting injured.  I want to be real happy with the Neal pick and then Lawson will be an afterthought. 

Hard to say...

From the way Lawson talks about it, it sounds really similar to something like what Beasley was dealing with. However, there was some mention that Lawson's issue might be a chronic thing,,, meaning it'll start getting much harder for him to deal with as he gets older... especially since he goes all out on every play apparently... and he may need to have more frequent surgeries done in time.

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