Ranking Atlanta Falcons last 10 first-round draft picks

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5. Keanu Neal 17th Pick 2016

There will be some understandable pushback on ranking Keanu Neal ahead of Atlanta's young playmakers. However, bear with the reasoning for a moment if you will. This isn't the injury-riddle Keanu Neal that we watched over the last three seasons.

This is ranking what Keanu Neal meant to the Falcons and how the pick aged for the rosters he was a part of. Neal was a key part of a young defense that is easily forgotten. Due to how things ended it is easy to write off what this unit accomplished and the role they played in the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

Yes, Matt Ryan was the MVP, and Julio Jones was a beast, but Atlanta doesn't go on that run or play well in 2017 without their young defense. Deion Jones was still at the top of his game in the middle of the field and Keanu Neal was waiting to punish anyone who dared get past him.

His bone-rattling hits that would be often flagged in today's league helped set the tone for a scrappy defense. Keanu Neal's career was altered by his injuries but don't forget the impact that he had and the plays he made the last time Atlanta was playing winning football.