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Seahawks 90-Man Roster Rundown: Ryan Neal – Sports Illustrated

With the calendar flipping to July and offseason programs wrapped up across the country, NFL training camps will begin around the NFL in less than a month's time. To celebrate the new incoming season, the All Seahawks staff will be breaking down the Seahawks 90-man roster over the next several weeks, exploring best and worst case scenarios and what to expect from each player entering the 2022 campaign.
Ryan Neal, Safety
Height/Weight: 6-foot-3, 200 pounds
2021 Stats: 49 tackles, three pass breakups, one sack
Despite being benched at one point during his college career at Southern Illinois, Neal signed with the Eagles as an undrafted free agent immediately after the conclusion of the 2018 NFL Draft. He lasted only two weeks into training camp before being waived, eventually landing with the Falcons and spending most of the season on their practice squad. Released by Atlanta the following August, Neal appeared in three games for Seattle late in the 2019 season after being elevated to the active roster. Battling through adversity, he briefly considered retirement after the Seahawks cut him prior to the 2020 season, but he opted against it and re-signed with their practice squad. Once Jamal Adams went down with a groin injury, he played the role of hero by intercepting Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott in the end zone for a game-winning turnover. Proving his worth in Adams' stead, he racked up 44 tackles and two interceptions in 13 games, which allowed him to avoid the chopping block last fall. Once again filling in admirably for Adams in five starts, he set a new career-best with 49 tackles and added a trio of tackles for loss for good measure in 2021.
Best Case Scenario: Benefitting from Seattle's desire to play more nickel and dime coverage, Neal etches out a situational sub-package role to receive consistent defensive playing time on Sundays while remaining an integral cog on special teams. After setting career-highs in several categories, he hits free agency next March with a healthy market of suitors.
Worst Case Scenario: With Marquise Blair back healthy and Justin Coleman returning to handle slot cornerback duties, Neal doesn't have a clear path to defensive playing time. Adams avoids the injuries that hindered him in the past two seasons, leaving the former Saluki to only play special teams.
What to Expect in 2022: Anytime the Seahawks have called upon Neal, he has came through for them in a big way thanks to his physicality, toughness, and underrated ball skills. Two years ago, with Adams sidelined for nearly a month, he provided the secondary with a monumental lift. Even late last year when the playoffs were out of reach, his presence ensured Seattle wouldn't have to deal with a massive drop off in play at strong safety. Just like the past two years, however, Neal will probably need injuries to strike again for him to have much of a role on defense, especially if Blair bounces back and stays on the field. It's possible he could be a fixture on dime sets, depending on the opponent. Barring an unexpected ascendance from an undrafted rookie, his spot on the roster should be safe and even if he only plays special teams for the most part, he will give the Seahawks one of the best safety insurance policies in the entire league.
Previous Seahawks 90-Man Roster Profiles
Kevin Kassis | Cade Brewer | Liam Ryan | Deontez Alexander | Elijah Jones | Josh Turner | Scott Nelson | Joshua Onujiogu | Jarrod Hewitt | Darwin Thompson | Matt Gotel | Lakiem Williams | Tanner Muse | Greg Eiland | Aaron Fuller | Shamarious Gilmore | Cade Johnson | Dakoda Shepley | Deontai Williams | Bubba Bolden | Josh Johnson | Vi Jones | Dareke Young | Myles Adams | Jacob Eason | Tyler Mabry | Jon Rhattigan | Penny Hart | Josh Jones | John Reid | Mike Jackson | Tyler Ott | Cody Thompson | Joel Iyiegbuniwe | Tyreke Smith | Bo Melton | Jason Myers | Marquise Goodwin | Tariq Woolen | Kyle Fuller | Bryan Mone | Nick Bellore | Jake Curhan | Ben Burr-Kirven | Phil Haynes | Ugo Amadi | Freddie Swain | DeeJay Dallas | Artie Burns | Marquise Blair | Tre Brown | Will Dissly | Coby Bryant | Alton Robinson | Geno Smith | Travis Homer | Shelby Harris | Colby Parkinson | Justin Coleman | Chris Carson


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