College: Jacksonville State
Position: Defensive back
College Stats: 191 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 21 pass break-ups, 3 interceptions. First Team All-OVC in 2016 and 2017
Siran Neal did it all during his time at Jacksonville State. He came onto campus as a defensive back and got to see action in the Gamecocks’ opener against Michigan State. Neal saw a good amount of action as a freshman, and he became the team’s back-up safety as a sophomore.
Coming into his junior year, he was asked to switch positions again. This time, Neal moved over to linebacker and became a star. He seized the starting job and led the team with 80 tackles on the season, earning his first all-conference honors in the process.
He was asked to move again as a senior, this time to cornerback. You never hear of linebackers moving to cornerback, but the coaching staff saw something in Neal and he took to the challenge. Neal once again earned all-conference honors and became an intriguing NFL prospect due to his raw athletic ability.
There aren’t many athletes who could stand out at three different positions. Neal’s versatility is a major asset as the game continues to evolve. His experience at both linebacker and safety should help him as a cornerback and means that he is not going to shy away from contact. He also might be one of those rare cornerbacks that can end up defending tight ends well.
Neal has a lot of natural ability. Like I already noted, it’s rare to see a linebacker move to cornerback unless there is a dire need, but Neal flourished after the change. He is still learning the position and could be a major steal if given time to develop.
Given his background, it’s not surprising that he can be a little too physical for his own good sometimes. At times, Neal resorted to clutching and grabbing opponents that were able to avoid his first bump out of press coverage. That’s something that will lead to flags more often at the next level.
His other flaws are understandable given how new he still is to the position. Neal has got to work on getting his technique in order, but if he does that than he has a chance to stick around in the NFL for a long time.
Neal is very likely to be taken sometime during the third day of the NFL Draft. His skillset and raw talent make him just too good to pass up.