Falcons shock the draft, take Keanu Neal over Myles Jack, Shaq Lawson

By Scott Carasik
Oct 31, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Keanu Neal (42) tackles Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver Terry Godwin (5) during the second half at EverBank Stadium. Florida Gators defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 27-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons had the best player in the entire draft in Myles Jack fall right into their laps, and they passed on him. They had the ideal fit for their scheme at their weakest position — middle linebacker — and they passed on him. They passed on him to take Keanu Neal, a strong safety out of the University of Florida instead.

Atlanta could have had their long-term middle linebacker but they instead took a long-term strong safety. Don’t get me wrong, as a Falcons fan, I love the idea of Neal playing that Kam Chancellor role for the Falcons in head coach Dan Quinn’s defense. But when it comes to what the Falcons actually needed more and having Jack right there, it just made too much sense to go Jack.

Edge defender Shaq Lawson out of Clemson was also another guy who was a better value than Neal at 17. But the Falcons decided to pass on him as well. He would have been an ideal fit on the line with Vic Beasley as a pass rusher. But of course, general manager Thomas Dimitroff and Quinn didn’t want to take him either.

Neal is definitely a great fit within the defense and should allow the Falcons to have their secondary starters set for 2016 with Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford at cornerback and Ricardo Allen at free safety. The pick of Neal should ultimately benefit the defense, but the fact that Lawson and Jack were passed up for him will sting for sure.