Keanu Neal looks to make a big impact in year one (Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI)

Many Falcons fans were disappointed when the team selected Florida safety Keanu Neal in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. I tend to agree with the notion listing Neal as a potential bust. Could he be the next Matt Elam? According to defensive coordinator Richard Smith he believes Neal will be a force to be reckon with in the future.

“I’ll tell you what, I’ve been very impressed with (Neal),” defensive coordinator Richard Smith said, via the team’s official website. “He’s extremely focused, he’s very mature, he’s very, very talented. I love his demeanor and his work ethic. He’s the first one in the building trying to get more coaching; he wants to be coached so much. I think he’s going to be pretty special.

“We can bring him on pressures, we can drop him into coverage, he can man up — so it’s a really good addition. More importantly, I love his maturity and how important it is to him as a young guy.”

Head coach Dan Quinn is hoping he can become the next Cam Chancellor that he coached in Seattle. If the Falcons hope to reach the playoffs Atlanta may need big contributions from their defensive rookies. Linebackers Deon Jones and De”Vondra Campbell could play big roles as well.