This morning we talked about fourth round pick De'Vondre Campbell, but I know many of you are itching to hear more about first round pick and safety Keanu Neal, who was viewed as a small-to-major reach when he was taken. You'll be happy to know that Dan Quinn is pleased with him.
"I think it's been an overall, not just the three days [of minicamp], that jump out to me," Quinn said. "I think the first few days, like you would expect, the learning, maybe a hesitation, and then now the elimination of the doubt of the assignment and how quickly he can close. It's the speed and burst that he plays with was probably a little stronger than I had thought. So you can tell he put the work in, to say he had the traits that we were looking for. And now that he has the quickness to play zone defense, we've seen him matched up on man to man against the tight ends and the backs, and we've got some hard matches to go against.
"That part of practice where we get to go against one another, you can see how difficult it is to match up on [Devonta] Freeman and Jacob Tamme. For him getting to go against them, and [rookie linebacker De'Vondre] Campbell as well, I thought has been a real plus for just trying to find out as much as we can about them. And those two, in the coverage aspect, are answering the bell."
The Falcons made Neal the 17th overall pick partly because they feared they'd lose him if he slid past them, and partly because Quinn firmly believes he's an ideal fit for this defense. We'll see if that winds up being the case, of course, but it's encouraging to hear Neal is doing well early. He would have to fall flat on his face to lose the starting job, but I think we'd all greatly prefer that he's not scuffling mightily with the gig for the first few weeks of the season.
What are your 2016 expectations for Neal?