Atlanta Falcons’ Safety Keanu Neal was named to his first Pro Bowl on Monday to replace Malcolm Jenkins, who is preparing for the Super Bowl.
The Atlanta Falcons continue to add big names to the NFC roster of next week’s Pro Bowl game as safety Keanu Neal is now the fourth member of the team slated to go to Orlando. Neal will be replacing Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, who will be withdrawing due to Super Bowl preparations.
This is Neal’s first Pro Bowl selection as he just concluded his second NFL season.
Neal was credited with 116 tackles, three forced fumbles, and one interception in 2017. His second year in the NFL exceeded his solid rookie year in 2016 as he had 106 tackles and no picks.
He was second in tackles for the Falcons behind linebacker Deion Jones, who will also be playing in the Pro Bowl. Neal has been been known for his powerful hits that many compare to some of the NFL’s previous dominant safeties in Ed Reed and Brian Dawkins.
Prior to the 2017 NFL Draft, many Falcons fans were looking for a pass rusher on the defensive line or even someone to add to their linebacking core so the selection of Neal threw many off guard. Fast forward to the conclusion of his second season, the city of Atlanta is well satisfied with his efforts as his contributions has led the Falcons’ defense to be ranked ninth overall in the NFL.
Much of Neal’s development can also be attributed to Defensive Coordinator Marquand Manuel‘s efforts as he turned around a 27th ranked Falcons defense to ninth in 2017 where they gave up only 19 points per game.
The Falcons’ secondary did an excellent job of limiting huge plays downfield in 2018 whereas this issue was prevalent in 2017; most notably Super Bowl 51 vs the Patriots last season.