Report: Steelers Linked To Florida Safety Keanu Neal

This is draft season, and it is time for rumors and speculation, but wanted to pass along one I read yesterday from Walter Cherepinsky on Walterfootball.com.

He reports the Pittsburgh Steelers have interest in Florida safety Keanu Neal.

“I am starting to hear first-round grades on the safety and continually hear the names of the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers as potential suitors in the first frame.”

Cherepinsky notes the one looming concern with him are a history of hamstring injuries that he attempted to play through, and choosing not to give it the time to heal.

Neal has been getting more attention in draft circles and doesn’t appear to be the mid-round pick some initially pegged him to be. Our Luc Polglaze just did the report on him, liking his vision and physicality but wanting to see more consistency out of his game, especially the mental side. He pegged him as a fourth round pick but it sounds like Neal will go higher, even in this deep safety class.

Neal finished 2015 with 84 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception.

The Steelers, of course, appear to have a big hole at strong safety, especially with Robert Golden likely to at least hit free agency and weigh his options. Kevin Colbert had praised the talent in the secondary in this class and you can bet there will be ten other defensive backs linked to the team before the draft arrives in late April.

 

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • CP72

    I have been on this guy for a while….not bragging (to much). He’s big and I think he’ll run well. Just watching him a little I could see he was an intimidating hitter.

    This is the type of guy you want on your side in a Bengals or Ravens game. He will send some mouth pieces flying.

  • vasteeler

    This guy didnt even look like a 1st rounder in probably the most talented secondary in college football! I dont mind the pick but please dont do it in the 1st rd!!

  • CP72

    He didn’t play for Ohio State….just kidding. I think what he runs will be interesting. I’ve seen weight at 219. If he can run 4.55-4.6 that’s a big fast dude.

  • PittsburghSports

    I never trust WF’s player evaluations, but that site hears a ton of rumors. I always go there to check his rumor page and prospect meeting lists.

  • Ike Evans

    If this is true, clearly, the nfl doesnt agree with that observation BUT who knows if this is true? Its silly season…alot of these rumors are bs

  • PittsburghSports

    Is that your or someone else’s evaluation? Just asking because I can never even see the Safeties on film half the time. He looks good coming in at the end of plays and laying hits on players.

  • vasteeler

    Most agree with this assessment or something pretty close. Neal doesn’t play with a lot of instincts nor does he appear to trust his reads. His run support is a real issue as he is often out of position. Neal takes poor angles to the ball carrier and at times fails to identify the direction of the play.There are too many instances where he fails to finish the play and pulls up right before making the tackle. His ability to hold up in coverage also comes with some question marks. Neal is a bit stiff through the hips which impacts his ability to change direction. He can get distracted by routes crossing his face and become stationary.This is a player with solid physical attributes but in need of more experience and development. He would’ve benefited from another year at Florida where he could have worked on his reads and overall feel for the position.It’s hard to imagine a team willing to take a risk on such a raw prospect early in the draft.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    Speaking of our secondary I’m anxious to see golson play this yr he may be the playmaker we been looking for, just watched his highlights video and to me he reminds me of _wait for it_ Antonio brown on defense but that’s just imo and I also think that he’s gonna bring out the best in the rest of our secondary I can see (hoping ) them (gay,golson,Cockrell, grant and whoever else)pushing each other for the simple fact that they know their rankings last yr and want to show they are better than advertised and going up against our offense should do just that

  • Big Joe

    I just don’t think he carries a 1st rd grade. Don’t see it. Maybe I’m missing something

  • Lambert58

    YES! This guy would look great in the B&G. I don’t what round he should go in, but he would fill the hole nicely at SS imo.

  • Rotten Sircus

    I like him for the 2nd or 3rd round. He was a liability against Miami hurricanes last season! The Steelers can get a better safety with Karl Joseph from W.Virginia or the kid from Boise St Thompson.

  • Michael James

    No way he falls to the 4th. I watched his tape and based on it he would probably be a 3rd rounder, but you can see the upside. After all is said and done, I would be shocked if he would be available when we pick in round 2.

  • Michael James

    Sorry but most of that is just bs. I would suggest everyone who claims such things just watches tape himself and doesn’t trust every evaluation from ‘experts’ who don’t know how to evaluate safeties.
    edit: I really love those guys who like their own post…

  • Michael James

    Great prospect. He looks for the big hit a bit too often and can get out of sorts down the field. On the other hand he is a sledgehammer waiting to wreak havoc and his closing speed in coverage is great, too. Neal is great in the box and moves well through traffic. I love how active and physical he is in run support.
    I said before that he is a late 2nd / early 3rd rounder based on the tape alone, but his tremendous upside could push him up significantly.

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    I am definitely torn about drafting a S with our rd1 pick. Seems like the position is too cerebral for a rookie to play, and really we need a S to complement Mitchell RIGHT AWAY if we are to compete for SB this year.
    I would prefer, after a lot of thought about it, to get a S in FA. Maybe George Iloka or even Weddle.
    Just think that that could lead to a quicker payback.

  • Big Joe

    Maybe. I just see too many things that I don’t like for a 1st or 2nd rd pick. I’d rather go with what I see rather than upside. What I see matches a lot of what I read so IMO he needs about 3 years to develop his instincts and that isn’t a rd 1-2 prospect to me.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    I feel we should sign Weddle and still draft a safety round 2 or 3. Depends on who’s there in the first. I personally would like Mackenzie Alexander if he’s there first round, but I could see a number of things happening depending on free agency.

  • Steve Johnson

    What the He__ does Robert Golden have to do? Sign the kid, draft a Safety later in the draft, use the 1st Rd for a CB (if one drops) or try and move back in the draft and pickup multiple picks.

  • CuldesacBill

    Nice measurements from the combine. 10 5/8 inch hands for a safety. Let’s see how fast he runs. I still like Thompson for the 1st round, if he’s still there and maybe Simmons from Boston College for the third round for safeties. At least this is a really deep class for safeties. They have several to choose from.

  • The Notorious TOM

    I don’t trust much of anything Walt says. Him and the dudes he has writing for him on his site are clownshoes.

  • PittsburghSports

    Yeah I mean he didn’t say it was his opinion so I’m guessing it’s from others. I don’t even know how anyone judges a Safety taking poor angles. You can’t even see him lol.

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    Just to be clear, I am not against drafting a safety, but feel that anybody we draft may not be able to contribute (i.e. start) in year 1. So, yeah, Weddle AND a rookie for the future works for me, especially if they do not retain Golden. Personally, I think Golden COULD be our guy because he really came on strong at the end of last year.

  • CodeNameJerk

    I’ve heard Safety is a deep position in FA. If that’s the case I think they’ll sign a vet and use the pick for another position. Just based on the recent past.

  • vasteeler

    No you’re wrong I’ve seen plenty of his nationally televised games, there was superior talent around him and he had major one on one struggles that a novice wouldn’t notice because they were looking at the whole team but anyone who knows how to adequately break down film knows this guy has MAJOR weaknesses including Dave…. Or maybe you’re the genius that’s just smarter than all of us

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    I feel Golden played good too, but I don’t see him as that starter type. I see him as special teams who can also play when needed, maybe he is what we need, but the same thing happened with Will Allen when Troy was out a couple years ago. He played good down the stretch then became a whipping boy all nxt year. I wanna bring someone in with experience and a chip on his shoulder and a quality safety behind him.

  • Michael James

    Could very well be the case. Still want to see other ‘experts’ than you and Luc who critisize him for things that aren’t there…

  • SFIC

    I’ve followed Walt for years. I have to disagree. While I don’t always agree with him, I do most of the time which is as good or better than any other prognosticator. JMO

  • The Chin

    Not throwing stones here at the current roster, but wherever we draft a safety, I pray he’s intelligent. No more dingbats, pleeeeeeease.

  • Zarbor

    I’m in agreement with that assessment based on what I saw. Coverage looks suspect though he is a big hitter. Sorry we don’t need another big hitter guy that lacks instincts, see Shamarko. Maybe he gets it but will need work or the right system

  • Applebite

    Ronnie Lott 2.0
    I’d be elated with this pick at Safety.

  • vasteeler

    Exactly not a fit for the steelers