The Buffalo Bills have boasted one of the league’s best pass defenses under head coach Sean McDermott since he took over the squad in 2017. Buffalo has finished No. 20, No. 1, No. 4, and No. 13 in passing yards allowed over the past four seasons. The team’s strong secondary has obviously played a huge part in that strong play over that period of time.
With all of that talent in the secondary, it’s no surprise the team has stockpiled some players via the draft over the last few years. While some of those talented corners have contributed on defense, others have had to find other ways to break into the lineup.
In today’s installment of “90 players in 90 days,” we profile one of those corners who has made a name for himself on special teams.
Name: Siran Neal
Height/Weight: 6’ 206 lbs
Age: 26 (27 on 8/4/2021)
Experience/Draft: 4; selected in the fifth round (No. 154 overall) by the Bills in the 2018 NFL Draft
College: Jacksonville St. (AL)
Acquired: NFL Draft
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Final year of rookie contract ($991,504 cap hit; $71,504 dead-cap charge if cut)
2020 Recap: Neal remained one of Buffalo’s top special teams contributors, as he appeared on more snaps (278) in that phase of the game than anyone besides Tyler Matakevich. Neal tied Matakevich for the team lead with ten special teams tackles. Neal also played on 117 defensive snaps. In total, he made 13 tackles and broke up one pass.
Positional outlook: Neal is primarily a slot corner, so his main competition for playing time is Taron Johnson, who was able to stay healthy last season en route to the best year of his career. Cam Lewis is another option for the Bills in the slot, as is rookie sixth-round choice Rachad Wildgoose Jr. Olaijah Griffin, Dane Jackson, Nick McCloud, Levi Wallace, and Tre’Davious White are the Bills’ other corners.
2021 Offseason: Neal is all set for training camp.
2021 Season outlook: It’s unlikely that the Bills would part ways with a versatile special teams contributor on the last year of his rookie deal, so the great likelihood is that Neal once again serves as a special teams gunner and occasional defensive contributor this season. However, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if this is the last year Neal is a member of the Bills, as his inability to develop into a defensive contributor in Buffalo thus far points to him seeking more opportunity elsewhere in 2022. For now, though, look for Neal to continue making punt returners’ lives miserable this year.