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Mike Neal

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 294 | College: Purdue
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One of the more underrated three-technique defensive tackles in the country, Neal did not even earn honorable mention honors from Big Ten coaches (though he did from the league's media members) despite drawing double-team blocking and generally being a thorn in the side of offensive linemen all season.

Neal rehabbed after knee surgery during his redshirt season and missed five games with a turf toe injury in 2006. In 2007 he began to make his presence felt by making 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks as reserve in 13 games. When finally receiving the chance to start the past two seasons, he accumulated 68 tackles, 21.5 for loss and 11 sacks.

Neal's injury history prompted coach Joe Tiller to call Neal "a tease" during spring 2008 practices, but Neal's toughness won't be questioned by scouts, as the former top Indiana high school recruit played through a torn labrum the last three games of 2007 and fought constant double-teams as a senior. His inconsistent motor and use of his brute strength to disengage from blocks won't impress scouts, but his general athleticism will earn him a spot somewhere in the middle third of the draft.


Pass rush: Once through the line, Neal has the closing speed to get into the quarterback's face. Occasionally drops into coverage on zone blitzes, looks fairly fluid. Gets jumpy on the line, guesses at the snap count too much. Needs more pass rush moves to beat veteran NFL linemen. Should get his hands into passing lanes more often when not able to reach the quarterback.

Run defense: Holds ground adequately against double teams, can split on occasion. Recovers from cut blocks quickly. Inconsistent shedding blocks against the run, but has the strength to do so. Does not hustle and chase as much as you'd like, standing around too much if the play goes away from him. Could improve his backfield awareness to prevent biting on play-action or misdirection.

Explosion: Very good quickness enough off the snap to penetrate at the three-technique, will cause guards to draw holding penalties at the next level. Has some pop on initial contact and push his defender back when man-up. Good lateral movement to sidestep into gap after the snap, although he takes himself out of plays more often than not when doing that.

Strength: One of the strongest players in the draft in terms of weightlifting numbers, but does not always play that way. When on his game, plays with leverage and capable of stacking guards and moving laterally or pushing the pocket. Inconsistent using his hands to disengage, will stand around after initial contact when gassed.

Tackling: Strong upper body allows him to swallow ballcarriers when coming on straight-on or chasing from behind. Has trouble shedding blocks at times and is inconsistent catching backs coming through the hole if he does get off. Does not get many hustle tackles getting downfield or to the outside.

Intangibles: Team captain and their defensive leader. Big weight room performer. Displayed toughness playing through a torn labrum. Loses his composure on the field at times, however, leading to unnecessary penalties.

2009 Season

Neal, who started 23 games for Purdue at defensive tackle, wrapped up his four-year career with 99 total tackles in 46 games played. The Merrillville, Ind., native recorded 26 career tackles for loss, including 13 sacks, to tie him with Gary Hrivnak (1970-72) and Landon Johnson (2000-03) for 21st on the Purdue record list. Neal posted career numbers in unassisted tackles (20), total tackles (35), tackles for loss (11.5) and fumbles forced (2) in 2009.

2008 Season

Appeared in all 12 games, including 11 starts … ranked second on team with 5.5 sacks and third with 10.0 tackles for loss … had 33 tackles (18 solo, 15 assists) … tied career-high with five tackles at Notre Dame on Sept. 27 (1 solo, 4 assists), at Northwestern on Oct. 18 (4 solo, 1 assist) and at Iowa on Nov. 15 (all assists) … recorded career-high two sacks at Northwestern on Oct. 18 … came up with 1.5 tackles for loss vs. Central Michigan on Sept. 20, at Notre Dame on Sept. 27 and vs. Minnesota on Oct. 25.

2007 Season

Appeared in all 13 games … recorded 22 tackles (10 solo, 12 assists), including 3.5 for loss and 2.0 sacks, with one pass breakup … recorded sack at Toledo on Sept. 1 … had career-high five tackles (2 solo, 3 assists), including 1.5 for loss and 1.0 sack, vs. Central Michigan in Motor City Bowl on Dec. 26.

2006 Season

Appeared in nine games as reserve … had nine tackles (8 solo, 1 assist), including 1.0 for loss, and one pass breakup … missed five games with turf toe injury … had two tackles (both solo) at Michigan State on Nov. 4 … recorded tackle for loss vs. Indiana on Nov. 18 … had season-high three tackles (all solo) and a pass breakup vs. Maryland in Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 29.

2005 Season

Did not play.

Injury Report

2005: Redshirted while rehabbing after knee surgery.

2006: Missed five games with a turf toe injury.

High School

Ranked as No. 29 strongside defensive end in nation and No. 6 player in Indiana by Rivals.com … No. 33 defensive end in nation by Collegefootballnews.com … No. 56 overall prospect in Midwest by Prep Football Report … first team all-state as senior after totaling 59 tackles, including 24 for loss and 12 sacks, with 20 quarterback hurries, six pass breakups and one blocked kick … had 49 tackles, including 14 for loss and four sacks, with three pass breakups and one fumble recovery as junior … coach was Jeff Yelton … also played basketball.


Given name is Michael Jamel Neal … born June 26, 1987 … health and fitness major … enjoys watching TV and studying … father, Michael, played football at Weber State.


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