Southern Methodist Junior
PROS: He shows good speed and burst. A nice north-south runner with decent vision. Shows ability to cut and sidestep defender out in space. Flashes lateral quickness and burst to be an elusive ballcarrier. Has nice hands and adjusts to the throw when working on screens or out in the flat.
CONS: Lacks power and won't be a threat to break many tackles. Will seem tentative about contact at times. Needs to improve blocking and pass protection for that very same reason. DOens't show great footwork or lateral quickness at times when operating in the backfield. Not as effective on counters or when he's asked to make a move before he gets to the line of scrimmage because of it.
OVERVIEW: Played two years at Miami, before his mother's health issues (diabetes) caused him to transfer to SMU. Was granted special waiver that didn't force him to sit out a year before he played with SMU this past fall. Was deep on Miami's depth chart, but combined for 33 carries and 152 yards and 3 scores in two seasons. Also returned 10 kickoffs for an average of 19.9 yards. In his lone year at SMU, he carried 236 times for 1188 yards (5.0 avg) and 12 touchdowns and also had 31 catches for 283 yards and 2 more touchdowns. Became first collegiate runner under June Jones to rush for 1000 yards.
NFL FORECAST: McNeal fits well as a change of pace runner and third down guy. His ability as a receiver is his best asset he offers for the next level. He'll have to improve as a blocker, before he can be counted on in that role, but if he shows improvement over his first few seasons, I don't see why he can't be a reliable third down option by his third year. He plays faster than he times, so his speed shoudl also be an asset. I don't see him ever being a regular featured part of an offense as a runner, but he can be a guy that can get some reps to add some speed to the lineup. His problem is lack of size and lacking durability.
ATL FORECAST: He could push for time as the team's third down back, although he's unlikely to do much his first year or so. He has potential to develop as a nice change of pace back that can be a factor in the passing game. But he's not going to be a featured asset in the ground game, and thus would have a smaller workload than Norwood on offense. He could be a decent replacement for Norwood after this season if need be, but I don't think he's a good enough runner to be kept beyond his rookie contract.
VALUE: He is good enough to be drafted late because of his ability as a third down back. BUt the earliest he should go is the sixth round.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.