Falcons rated safety position to fit scheme

FLOWERY BRANCH — The Falcons rated their safety position much differently than other teams in the 2016 NFL draft.

The Falcons don’t require their safety to cover wide receivers. In part, that explains the different ratings that teams and draft analysts had on first-round pick Keanu Neal and why some draft analysts contended that the Falcons “reached” for Neal.

“When you play a scheme where you feature the safety, which we do, it has a real impact on the ball game,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “That’s why we are thrilled to add Keanu into the mix. The physicality that goes along with the position is one that I have always had a really deep appreciation for and then having the ability to be able to use that for the cover element is a factor.”

Neal will move around in the Falcons’ scheme.

“This strong safety is going to play in the box,” Quinn said. “He’ll look like a linebacker at times. He’ll come up at the end of the line at times. He’ll blitz at times. It’s a different, hybrid guy for us.”