The 2021 NFL Draft has come and gone. The Atlanta Falcons selected 9 players in the draft but in all, they’ve added 29 rookies to the roster when you include undrafted free agents. Although they didn’t hear their name called over the weekend, undrafted rookies share the same dream as drafted players — to make an NFL roster. The task is more difficult for undrafted players but still quite possible, as the Falcons have benefited from undrafted players such as long snapper Josh Harris, cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Brian Poole, and former right tackle Ryan Schraeder over the years.
As I did last year, I have begun my 2021 UDFA interview series, where I’ll speak with those players who want the fans to get to know them better heading into training camp. Recently, I spoke with newly signed offensive lineman Ryan Neuzil, who attended Appalachian State University.
The 6’3, 290 lb Neuzil was a Second-team All-American for Sporting News and PFF College. In his collegiate career, Neuzil had 44 straight starts for the Mountaineers at left guard. Additionally, he was invited to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and was ranked as a top-100 player (85th) by PFF College, as he was one of two guards in the FBS to record a PFF grade above 86.0 as both a pass- and run-blocker. At Appalachian State’s Pro Day, Neuzil had 30 reps on the bench press and ran the 40 in 5.09 seconds.
How would you overall describe your time at Appalachian State University?
I was very fortunate to go there. It was the perfect fit, it was the perfect opportunity for me. I knew when I was being recruited out of high school that I wanted to get out of Florida — and App was the perfect place for me. It’s still in the south, it’s still close enough to home. It’s up on a mountain to where it doesn’t get above 85 degrees in the summer, sounds pretty great.
Are you excited to make it to the NFL? Favorite team growing up?
I’m pretty excited. I had a few friends, from App State, who went into the NFL and they said it’s better to get into those preseason games than if you aren’t able to. It’s kind of a warmup to what the actual season will be like. My favorite NFL team growing up was actually the Chargers.
Did you receive any other offers? What made you decide on signing with the Falcons?
I’m not too sure. Around the fifth round we committed with the Falcons to where if I went undrafted, I would sign with them. I though it was the best placement for me, the scheme and everything I fit in well with.
Have you discussed what your role will be with the Falcons’ staff?
What I’ve been hearing, is basically, I’m an interior lineman. I’ll fit in wherever I’m needed — left guard, right guard, center — just wherever they need me to play, I’ll play.
Who do you model your game after?
Honestly, who I’ve modeled my game from is just the App State offensive linemen who have come before me. The App State offensive line is just a nasty group, that just wants to inflict as much... not pain, but discomfort during the game. We made sure that they know we’re coming to hit them every play, and they might need to toughen up a little bit.
How are you preparing for the upcoming season?
So, luckily while I was training for my pro day, I trained locally where I grew up with a trainer. Right now I’m still training with him, just trying to get in a few workouts before I head up there for rookie mini-camp.
In the video above, Neuzil is the left guard, No. 58. Keep in mind this isn’t a highlight tape, just game footage from a 2020 matchup between Appalachian State and Louisiana-Lafayette. Appalachian State’s offensive scheme was wide zone and you can see in several plays above where Neuzil moved was able to create a gap for his running back.
Luckily for Neuzil, the Falcons have a need at left guard. Currently in the competition for the position are Willie Wright, Josh Andrews, rookie Jalen Mayfield, Matt Gono and now Neuzil. Just like with any player, my opinion doesn’t matter and I have no say in whether he makes the final roster in September. I do however see what Falcons’ scouts saw in that he is a true left guard who has the right amount of nastiness you want on your offensive line. I look forward to seeing Neuzil and the rest of the undrafted rookies compete this summer.