Siran Neal poised for breakout season with Buffalo Bills? Why Lorenzo Alexander thinks Neal could emerge in 2020
Original Source: https://www.syracuse.com/buffalo-bills/2020/05/siran-neal-poised-for-breakout-season-with-buffalo-bills-why-lorenzo-alexander-thinks-neal-could-emerge-in-2020.html
Siran Neal is coming off of the best season of his young NFL career. The versatile player did not play much on defense for the Buffalo Bills in 2019 (174 snaps), but he was arguably the team’s MVP on special teams.
Neal will continue to be a key cog on Heath Farwell’s unit in 2020, but could this also be the season where he emerges on defense?
Former Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander thinks that may be the case. In an appearance on Bills Talk with Matt Parrino, Alexander was asked to pick which player was poised to breakout in 2020. When all was said and done, Alexander named two potential breakout candidates.
“Breakout player? I don’t know if they have that type of … Is anyone a sleeper, really? You know what? I will say this. I think Siran Neal going into his third season, I think he will be a guy who’s role will continue to grow. If not Siran, it will be Quan Johnson, Juquan. I think, because he’s a really smart player. Maybe his role will grow. It will be out of one of those two guys depending on how Covid-19 continues to impact the offseason. Will they have a training camp? Because as training camp and all that stuff reduces, coaches are going to go to guys that they know can do it and they don’t really have time to gain the trust of a coach if that makes sense. Right now, you have some guys that are probably a little bit more veteran guys that have been out there and I think coaches will go to them first, but if they have a little bit of a training camp I could see Siran Neal or Jaquan Johnson making a big step.”
One spot Neal could take over in 2020 is the big nickel role on the Bills’ defense. This offseason, Lenoir-Rhyne’s Kyle Dugger was linked to Buffalo leading up to the draft as he was viewed as potential big nickel fit on the team’s defense. Dugger was off the board before the Bills got on the clock in the draft, but the team did not select any player in the draft to potentially vie for the role. That may speak to the trust that Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier have in Neal.
Alexander explained why Neal has all of the intangibles to thrive in that role in 2020 and beyond.
“If you have a guy like Siran Neal who has the ability to obviously cover, can run and then also has the ability to fill gaps because he’s a big strong safety — bigger safety type — you win the matchup,” Alexander said. “At the end of the day football is really all about matchups and where can I beat you at? A guy like Siran Neal with his athletic ability — you know they had Dean Marlowe do it last year as well — those guys have the ability to be two-way smaller linebackers, but also have the athleticism to go out and guard tight ends. It really allows your defense never to feel like you’re never at a disadvantage when a team is trying to beat you in a matchup game.”
What will it take for Neal to break out this season? Alexander thinks it will simply come down to confidence.
“For Siran to continue to take that next step, he just has to be confident in himself. That’s always the biggest thing when you have young players making that jump. Having confidence in who he is and having confidence that he knows what he’s doing. And so obviously going into his third season, he’s had two years to really get comfortable with the nickel spot. I have a lot of confidence in him coming in this year having that confidence that ‘OK, I know what I’m doing when they make this adjustment’ because offenses are not going to stand still. Just being confident that you know what you’re talking about and when you do it, do with some confidence. Do it with some urgency and then go out there and make plays. So that’s kind of going to be his progression if he really wants to step up and be the player that we all know he’s capable of being.”