Keanu Neal Declares for 2016 NFL Draft: Latest Comments and Reaction

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2016

Nov 7, 2015; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Keanu Neal (42) against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida Gators defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores 9-7. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida defensive back Keanu Neal has decided to forgo his senior season with the Gators and instead enter the 2016 NFL draft.

Mark Long of the Associated Press passed along word of the safety's decision.

Neal posted a message on Instagram about the difficulty of the choice and his time at Florida:

He finished third on the Gators with 96 total tackles during the 2015 season, including 11 as one of the rare bright spots in the team's blowout loss to Michigan in the Citrus Bowl. He also registered two sacks and an interception across 14 games.

Since he's at his best dropping into the box in run support, he could play strong safety at the next level. That said, he possesses enough versatility to play either role and still has a lot of untapped potential as he makes the early jump.

Tony Pauline of considers him the "most underrated safety in the nation." That comes after Mike Huguenin of rated him as one of college football's most physical players before the 2015 season got underway.

The presence of a talented secondary, led by Vernon Hargreaves III, caused Neal to get overlooked at times during his final season at Florida. The draft process will be important in terms of proving himself as a potential impact performer.

That said, he has the tools to thrive at the next level once he gets a little more experience.