The Buffalo Bills lacked depth at the safety position in 2017. Starters Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer each were outstanding, but when they needed a breather, the second-wave players were exploited by opposing offenses. In the 2018 NFL Draft, the Bills addressed the position with a versatile small-school player.
In the latest installment of our “90 players in 90 days” series,” we take a look at a man who played his college football in Alabama, although many would assume that he played in Florida at a quick glance.
Name: Siran Neal
Height/Weight: 6’0” 206 lbs.
College: Jacksonville State
Draft: Selected in the fifth round (154th overall) of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Neal’s four-year rookie contract is worth a total of $2,746,016. His cap hit for 2018 will be $551,504.
2017 Recap: Neal had a breakout senior campaign in 2017. He doubled his career total in passes defended with 12 while intercepting 1 pass for the third consecutive season. He made 39 total tackles on the year.
Positional outlook: Neal is competing for a spot as a backup safety to the aforementioned Hyde and Poyer. He is the least experienced safety by a wide margin, with veterans Dean Marlowe, Kelcie McCray, L.J. McCray, and Rafael Bush as the other four players vying for what should be two roster spots.
2018 Offseason: Neal has drawn praise from defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier this offseason, as the veteran coach noted Neal’s versatility as a positive for the club. He has attended all offseason sessions to date.
2018 season outlook: Joe Buscaglia doesn’t think that Neal is locked in as the fourth safety on the roster, as he thinks there is a legitimate competition between Neal and Marlowe for that spot. Kelcie McCray is another possible road block to Neal’s spot on the roster. Neal’s ability to play corner could help him, but if the Bills feel that they have a strong enough group of corners to keep, this leg-up might be neutralized. If he is not kept on the 53-man roster, look for Buffalo to try to add Neal to its practice squad heading into September.