by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of Kansas Athletics.
At Draft 412, the NFL draft talk never ends. We will keep you ready for the next set of gridiron stars—from today and all the way until draft night 2024. We will bring you mock drafts, player profiles, individual team needs, and everything else you may need related to the 2024 NFL Draft.
Today’s Spotlight - Kansas, Running Back, Devin Neal
Name- Devin Neal
Pos- Running Back
HT/WT- 5’11” 215 lbs.
Born- 8/12/ 2003
Home – Lawrence, KS
Neal grew up in Lawrence, Kansas and went to Lawrence High School where he was a consensus three-star prospect. He had a breakout senior season running for 1,327 yards and 20 touchdowns and committed to Kansas to play football and baseball over football offers from Iowa, Kansas State, Nebraska and Oklahoma State.
Neal had a successful freshman season at Kansas, running for 707 yards and 8 touchdowns. During the 2021 season, he became the first Kansas freshman to ever win the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week. He also played in 7 baseball games for the Jayhawks' baseball team.
Last season, Neal became the focal point of the Jayhawks' offense, running the ball 180 times for 1,090 yards and 9 touchdowns. He also helped out in the passing game, hauling in 21 receptions for 183 yards and a touchdown.
So far this season, Neal is averaging 7.6 yards per carry, rushing for 303 yards and 5 touchdowns. Through the first 3 games Neal has 8 receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown.
Neal is an explosive athlete who can get to the outside against defenders and is able to get to his top gear quickly. He is a reliable pass catcher who can run several different routes from the backfield or from the slot. He is a creative running back who uses vision and has the cut back ability to set up big plays. Neal has outstanding vision and has a good feel when to use his blocks and when to accelerate through the holes. He is exceptional in the open field and runs like a water bug and is difficult to corral.
On the negative side, Neal has balance issues when he gets contacted early on or at the line of scrimmage. Neal lacks the power of a normal 215 lb. back and relies more on his speed than dropping his shoulder. He is not a pure pass blocker and tends to try and cut a defender instead of taking him on head-to-head. He has a tendency to try and bounce runs outside earlier than he should, and loses possible yards up the gut.
In 2022, the Kansas City Chiefs hit on 7th round pick Isiah Pacheco and Draft 412 sees some similarities in Devin Neal’s game. Both have quickness and creativity to go along with pass catching abilities. Draft 412 thinks Neal should get drafted higher than the 7th round, though.
Hands/ Passing game
Changes running lane
Devin Neal has enough big play ability and pass receiving skills to be a quality 3rd down back in the NFL.
Draft 412 Draft Projection- Round 5 or 6