Day late and a dollar short on this news, so I thought I'd offer a little further analysis than the typical "breaking" Fan Shot.
I must say, I'm a little bit bamboozled by this take. That's not a knock on Neal, so much as acknowledging that he's a diversion from the type of DE we've targeted since hiring John Chavis. Neal is 6'1. Quite short for the position, but there have been guys, both in college and the NFL, who have succeeded despite lacking the ideal height. The question is, does he remain at DE?
He's a pretty talented pass rusher. Uses his hands decently, showing a rip and swim move. He's got a lot of brute, natural strength. He doesn't really get pushed around much, even though he's undersized for the position. He stands straight up out of his stance quite a bit, which will need to be corrected. Shows pretty good play recognition. Illustrates good lateral quickness. Okay tackler, but "bodies-up" too much, rather than lowering his shoulder and driving through. He's more of a "catch tackler" than a true hitter. He shows good pursuit.
Lewis is a solid, productive player, but I'm uncertain of scheme fit on this one. Is he Ronnie Feist all over again? By that I mean, a HS DL who is too small for the position at the next level and will play LB? Or does Chavis believe in his pass rushing ability enough to use him as a fastball/situational pass-rushing DE? Virtually every site lists him as a DE, but I'm just not sure I see that in his future.
All-in-all, this is a bit of a puzzling take to me. He's a fine player, and certainly LSU quality (he's got a decent offer list too), but there are other players at his position who project to be better, IMO. Namely, Torrodney Prevot. This doesn't mean we don't take Prevot, but it does put the class at 3 DEs already and 19 total commitments. Spots are getting scarce. If you like him at LB, we already have Melvin Jones, plus the gigantic haul there last year. Does the staff anticipate Montgomery, Mingo, and others leaving after this season? The DE depth chart will be a little thin if both guys go pro, considering we'll also lose Lavar Edwards and Chancey Aghayere (though I don't think he played much, if at all, last season). The only remaining guys who have played are Rasco and Maclin. Throw in Danielle Hunter, and then you have no idea what you are gonna get from Jordan Allen, whom we've seen nothing from to date. You do have some thinner DTs/larger DE hybrid guys that you could try out there, but do they have the explosion Chavis covets from the position?
Where do you guys think Lewis Neal fits?
Lewis Neal Junior Highlights 6'2 235 DE/TE AthleteVault (via lewneal3)