I spent the night watching this guy and had to write something down.
Keanu Neal (S, Florida) is a player.
The Seahawks say they want to be the bully again. Well here you go. This is the reason I ended up watching Neal in the first place tonight. I deliberately set out to try and find a guy who best fits the term ‘tone setter’.
There are a few in this draft — but not many with a supreme athletic profile, explosive quick-twitch athleticism, extreme tenacity and the ability to deliver bone-breaking hits.
They’re going to lose, as Marshawn Lynch might say, “some dogs” this off-season. Lynch has retired, Bruce Irvin likely moves on. In 2013 they had guys like Chris Clemons, Red Bryant and Brandon Browner. Physicality, toughness, street-fighter style attitude.
It’s hard to find guys like that within a group of rookies. It’s easier in free agency when you can dig out a guy like Tony ‘just take my lunch money’ McDaniel. If the Seahawks want to re-establish their attitude — Neal could be the answer.
He’s tentatively listed at 6-1 and 216lbs. That’s only a few pounds lighter than LSU linebacker Deion Jones.
Neal could play some ‘deathbacker’ like Deone Bucannon. He can play some safety. They can be creative with a guy like this. Bucannon was 6-1 and 211lbs at his combine and ran a 4.49. Let’s see if Neal gets into that speed range.
There’s every chance — he was a coveted four-star recruit in High School. He gets up to top speed very quickly — he looks explosive. He can play the run up at the line and that shouldn’t be an issue despite his lack of size. And when he locks on to a ball-carrier — he’ll hammer the guy.
He’s the type of player that can help the Seahawks establish that fear factor for receivers running across the middle. Get Kam Chancellor healthy and back to 100%, put him with Neal and it won’t be much fun at the second level.
If you were going to write down a list of ‘best players’ likely to be available at #26, Neal has to be on there. And while adding this type of player might not feel like a priority at the moment — let’s see what they do in free agency. Drafting Neal is arguably the type of aggressive, physical, high-character, high-production, SPARQy move the Seahawks love to make in round one.
Neal could also be an insurance hedge against Chancellor. Kelcie McCray is 28-years-old this year after all. If you’re thinking about a linebacker/safety for today and a starting strong safety for tomorrow — this could be an option. Like Bucannon in Arizona and Mark Barron with the Rams — you find a way to get the guy on the field.
In all honesty he might not even make it to #26. Atlanta at #17 and Washington at #21 could be surprise options. Minnesota and Pittsburgh could also show interest.
There are very few obvious flaws here. There are some missed tackles — but you could say the same for Earl Thomas. He’s certainly not a deep coverage specialist or rangy free safety — but he isn’t trying to be. And while he plays with a fierce intensity — he’s well spoken and seems like a good team mate. See for yourself:
Keep an eye on his workout on Monday. If he runs in the late 4.4’s like Bucannon — watch out.