The Atlanta Falcons have long been without a serious defensive playmaker. There were years fans just had to hope Akeem Dent wouldn’t miss too many tackles, or that Kroy Biermann looked good before he wore down. Things have changed since Dan Quinn took over, and rival teams are taking notice.
Bucs Nation, the SB Nation Tampa Bay Buccaneers hub, ranked their top five defenders in a surprisingly stacked NFC South. As you probably figured out from the title, formerly overdrafted safety Keanu Neal made the cut, along with Gerald McCoy, Luke Keuchly, Lavonte David (ranked number two ), and Cameron Jordan.
The Kam Chancellor of the southeast, Neal is a budding terror for opposing offenses. He was a natural-born hitter coming out of college and that was the main reason Dan Quinn coveted him, but he really heightened his coverage abilities in 2017, making him one of the best defenders in the division.
Bucs Nation additionally linked to a Bleacher Report writeup that believes Neal is on the fast track to become one of the league’s best safeties. He’s a playmaker from top to bottom, and already looks like William Moore in his prime.
We like to jokingly point out that Pro Football Focus had Neal as the 5th worst pick of the entire 2016 NFL draft, but there were definitely questions about Neal’s coverage and inconsistent tackling in college. With options like Myles Jack and Shaq Lawson, the Neal pick felt like a big risk. Quinn obviously had the last laugh. Neal has already earned a Pro Bowl berth, and has been awesome early in his career.