In the middle of his 2018 Junior Season, it seemed like Lorenzo Neal Jr. was set to leave early and head to the NFL.
Seen as one of the better Nose Tackles in college football that year, Lo Neal lead a defense that was solid as stopping the run. The 300+ pound nose is exactly what NFL teams envision when talking about a run stuffing nose tackle.
Then, in the 2018 Bucket Game, Lorenzo tore his ACL. The hope was he would be healthy and return at some point during the 2019 season, but that never happened, as he had several setbacks in his return.
But, he came back in 2020, where he played a true 0 technique in a 3-4 defense, where he was much less efficient it 5 games this season.
Sadly, that ACL in 2018 probably nixed a chance for him to be drafted early, but if a team needs some defensive tackle depth late in the draft, Neal could hear his name be called in the 6th or 7th round. Nonetheless, he will be picked up as an Undrafted Free Agent at the very least.
At 6-3, 325 pounds he has plenty of NFL Size, he has 72 total tackles, 4 sacks.
Here are some pros and cons from the NFL Draft Network:
“Pros (+): He’s a terror when he’s able to club or swim past blockers at the point of attack. His splash plays are impressive and his motor and mobility for a big dude is impressive — he’s a terrific natural athlete for an IDL with his stature. He’s the son of longtime NFL fullback Lorenzo Neal, so his bloodlines are legit. Neal has a good nose for punching out the football, too — he had four forced fumbles over his 2017 & 2018 seasons before redshirting in 2019. Neal Jr. has good short-area quickness and lateral agility, allowing him to slant and crash through gaps at the snap and create chaos in a gap penetration style role.
Cons (—): There were too many instances of Neal Jr. ending up on the ground, he’s a bit top-heavy and he struggles at times with leverage and pad level — providing ample surface area to let blockers roll through contact and collapsed off the LOS or losing his footing. You’d wish he came with a better and more consistent anchor given his stature but he doesn’t necessarily play like a true nose tackle, he’s more effective in a penetration approach. He redshirted in 2019 after a knee injury cost him his entire season — so will he return to the field and retain his athleticism and range? Or will a recovery fail to return him to 100%? That’s a bit of an unknown, but he’s going to need to stay committed to working under the pads of blockers to reach his full potential.”