Florida's Keanu Neal is being tagged as one of the top safeties in this year's draft class.
Why? His aggressive hitting.
A three-year contributor, the 6-0, 211-pound Neal is coming off a season in which he racked up a team-high 51 solo tackles and the third-most total tackles (96) of all Gators in 2015. The safety missed the first two games of his junior year due to injury but played in the remaining 12, making 11 starts. The previous season, Neal was also a big-time player for the Gators, starting in eight of his 10 appearances.
Even as a true freshman, Neal played in all 12 games and was a core member on special teams, tying the team lead with five special teams tackles. Throughout his collegiate career, the safety accumulated 146 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions and two sacks.
Currently, Neal is projected to be a late first-round or early second-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, but some scouts wouldn't be surprised if he is picked a bit higher than expected.
Scouting Report From NFL.com
Athletic frame with NFL size. Quick-twitch player cranks it up to top speed in a hurry. Explodes downhill in run support with blood in his eyes. Vicious hitter looking to bruise bones and set tones. Rangy run stopper. Drives all the way through his contact with aggressive finishes. Scouts impressed by his personal character. Good click-and-close skill in coverage. Is on top of receiver immediately after the catch. Worked from the box and as single-high safety at Florida. Impact tackler around the line of scrimmage. Plays with a sense of desperation and rarely fatigues.
Neal started the year off with a hamstring issue that slowed him down and caused some uneven tape at times, but his size, athleticism and hitting are the best in this draft. Neal isn't limited to simple box tasks even though he thrives there. He has all the makings of an early starter and may hear his name called earlier than some might project. – Lance Zierlein
What He Said
"I mean, you're always going to say you're a first-round draft pick. I mean, that's a blessing, that's a blessing in its own. But, it's a starting point. That's how I look at it. You know, go first, second, third, undrafted. It's a starting point. There's a lot of free agents that go 10 years in the league because they use it as a chip on their shoulder and they keep working. All it is is a starting point in my opinion." – Keanu Neal to SECCountry.com on where he is selected in the NFL Draft