Remember that time when we (me specifically) bitched and moaned after Thomas Dimitroff and company selected Keanu Neal in the first round of the NFL Draft, leaving guys like Shaq Lawson, Reggie Ragland and Myles Jack on the board? Well, after weeks of carefully reviewing Twitter I have only one thing to say to the Falcons front office…tip of the cap to you, sirs.
Neal’s athleticism and physical play have been the talk of camp so far in Flowery Branch, and his big time hits have already induced a few shoving matches during practice. He has drawn continuous praise from both Dan Quinn and teammates like Ricardo Allen, who called Neal one of the smartest players he has been around. This may be a tad premature, but I have already seen talk of Neal eventually becoming a defensive captain. Many first round picks get penciled in at the top of the depth chart by default, in order to avoid any speculation that the front office made a poor selection. Keanu Neal is penciled in at the top of the depth chart because he is by far the most talented player the Falcons have at his position. His presence has specifically been felt within the tight end corps, which has had to deal with Neal each time one of them crosses the middle of the field. But let’s be honest, he was starting at SS the moment he was taken with the 17th overall pick.
Let me preface this final paragraph my stating that I have already knocked on every piece of wood in my apartment as to not place any jinxes on Mr. Neal with my following comments. Just for the heck of it I thought that we would take a quick peak at the current status of some of the guys we passed on in the first round. Defensive end Shaq Lawson reinjured his shoulder and has not practiced since the first day of mini-camp and Reggie Ragland recently injured his knee during training camp and his time table for return is still unknown. Titans rookie DE Kevin Dodd has been out of camp with a stress fracture in his foot and Robert Nkemdiche has been out of Cardinals camp with an ankle sprain. Injury can strike to anyone at any time, but when you factor in his health to go along with talent and leadership, it sure looks like the Falcons have chosen wisely when it comes to Keanu Neal. Tip of the cap to you, Falcons.
–Sean Nerny, Studio Producer/Operator
Sports Radio 680 The Fan