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Bright spots in a dim year: Sharrod Neasman comes back with a vengeance

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Fact: Sharrod Neasman frequently hokey pokeys but seldom turns it all about

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons safety Sharrod Neasman has been on an emotional roller coaster since he finished his collegiate career at Florida Atlantic in 2015. Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Falcons following the 2016 NFL Draft, Neasman didn’t make the 53 man roster but was quickly signed to the practice squad. He earned a regular season call up in October 2016 and played in 11 regular season games during the 2017 season. Following the 2017 season, the Falcons let Neasman walk and the Saints signed him. He spent a summer with New Orleans before getting cut in early September 2018.

After Ricardo Allen tore his achilles, the Falcons needed safety depth, so they reached out to Neasman. Neasman was familiar with the system and perhaps the Falcons were thinking twice about letting the talented young safety get away. Neasman would go on to play 600 snaps for the Falcons in 2018 (434 on defense). He was on the field for 39.8 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, the fifth highest percentage among Falcons DBs. Lucky for us, Neasman didn’t disappoint, earning a grade of 67.8 from PFF (48th among qualifying safeties), which makes him above-average according to their metrics.

The Falcons love Neasman’s speed and attitude, and they made use of his coverage skills to help sustain a defense marred by injuries in 2018. The coaching staff primarily deployed Neasman in their nickle package, and I’ll be shocked if they don’t give him an opportunity to carve out a similar role in 2019. (Heck, if it’s a choice between Jordan Richards and Neasman, I’d go with the latter any day.) It’s worth noting that Neasman played through neck and shoulder injuries late in the season, so he’s certainly tough enough to play for a Dan Quinn defense.

Your thoughts about Neasman? Has he done enough in your mind to earn a role with the team going forward?