Rookie Keanu Neal signs deal with Atlanta Falcons


Keanu Neal agreed to a contract with the Atlanta Falcons on Wednesday and became the first 2016 first-round pick to ink his deal on Thursday, the team announced.

Taken No. 17 overall last Thursday, the 20-year-old Florida product boasts NFL size and supreme athleticism. A big hitter with range against the run, Neal has been compared to Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor. Neal should immediately upgrade a run-of-the mill Falcons run defense.

As coach Dan Quinn attempts to imitate the success of Seattle's defense, the Falcons needed to add toughness and Neal fits the bill. Atlanta used three of its first four picks on defensive players in last week's draft.

Many pundits viewed Neal a reach in the first round, causing Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff to spend the past several days defending his selection of the 6-foot-1 safety.