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Cowboys Have Intriguing Plan for Keanu Neal

Max Staley
The Dallas Cowboys have an intriguing plan for Keanu Neal in 2021.
The Dallas Cowboys have an intriguing plan for Keanu Neal in 2021. / Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
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The Dallas Cowboys have been loading up at safety this offseason. The team added Keanu Neal, Damontae Kazee and Jayron Kearse in free agency. The organization did clearly need to shore up the backend of the secondary, but those moves could create a bit of a logjam at the position.

To address that, it sounds like Dallas has a pretty intriguing plan for Neal. The Cowboys are going to use the hard-hitting safety at linebacker.

This is a move that every Madden franchise mode player has made countless times. Getting the added speed that comes with putting a safety at linebacker is always fun, especially when that guy hits as hard as Neal.

But there's reason to think this move could work outside of the video game world as well.

Neal lined up for 484 snaps in the box last year, so he's clearly comfortable playing closer to the line of scrimmage. He's also always been a real playmaker when healthy, receiving a 74.3 pass-rushing grade from ProFootballFocus in 2020 to go along with a 67.9 grade as a run defender. Coverage has always been the weaker part of his game, boasting a 66.2 coverage grade last year, per PFF.

Those results aren't some one-year fluke, either. The season Neal made the Pro Bowl (2017), he also graded significantly higher as a run defender (84.9) than he did in coverage (71.6).

Asking Neal to transition to linebacker is playing to his strengths. That sounds like a pretty solid plan from Dallas' new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.


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Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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