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Sunshine State Report

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Florida Gators' Keanu Neal a possible first-round NFL draft pick

23

March

GAINESVILLE - Florida Gators DB Vernon Hargeaves III seems like a first-round lock in next month's NFL draft. DL Jonathan Bullard could go on the first night, too.

But don't overlook S Keanu Neal, a hard-hitting wildcard who could also sneak into the first round.

"That's a blessing in its own, but it's a starting point," Neal said of potentially being a first-round pick. "That's how I look at it. You know, go first, second, third, undrafted. It's a starting point."

Neal said leaving UF after his junior season was "really tough" but necessary because scouts were calling him a second-round pick. After a strong showing at Tuesday's UF pro day, Neal said going late in the first round is also a possibility.

The 6-foot-1, 216-pound Neal missed two games last season because of injury but still finished third on the team with 96 tackles. No Gator had more solo tackles (51), and he added 3.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks and an interception.

Neal said his biggest asset for NFL teams is his versatility.

"Everyone sees me as a big hitter, as a knockout guy," Neal said. "But I can cover. I wanted to show my range (Tuesday), being able to open up, stay on the line, open my hips up and catch the ball. And I did that..."

Neal already knows what it takes to succeed professionally. His brother, Clint Hart, spent seven seasons in the NFL as a defensive back. Neal said he plans to watch the draft with his friends and family in Ocala at his brother's gym.

[Last modified: Wednesday, March 23, 2016 10:50am]

    

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