Seahawks 90-Man Roster Primer: Ryan Neal

With Marquise Blair and Jamal Adams both down, Neal became everything the Seahawks needed and then some. Will he be able to continue that momentum despite an unlikely path to playing time, or fall back into a minor role?
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With the calendar flipping to June and offseason programs recently wrapping up, NFL training camps will begin around the league in less than two months. To celebrate the new incoming season, we 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 2021 campaign.

Ryan Neal, Defensive Back

Height/Weight: 6-foot-3, 200 pounds

2020 Stats: 32 combined tackles, two interceptions, five pass deflections, one blocked punt, one safety in 13 games

Neal was on the verge of quitting football altogether before injuries to safeties Marquise Blair and Jamal Adams catapulted him into a starting role. After two-plus seasons spent on practice squads, Neal finally got his shot and ran with it immediately. It all started with a game-clinching interception of Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott in Week 3, sealing the Seahawks' 38-31 victory shortly after replacing an injured Adams mid-game. The ball would find him once again the following week, this time in the form of a deflected pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick in the team's Week 4 win over the Dolphins. He made such an impression that, even after Adams returned, he managed to carve out a role in nickel and dime looks and performed well on special teams. Now with Adams and Blair expected to be back at full strength, Neal, who re-signed as an exclusive rights free agent this offseason, may take a backseat for most of the year. However, if he's not traded, he gives the team significant depth at the safety position. 

Best Case Scenario: With more of a focus on special teams, Neal builds on his solid 2020 and works his way into Pro Bowl consideration in the third phase of the game.

Worst Case Scenario: Blair comes back strong and keeps Neal from seeing the field on defense, relegating him to work exclusively on special teams and potentially putting him on the roster bubble.

What to Expect in 2021: Unfortunately, Neal's likeliest path to playing time on defense is—for the second year in a row—via an injury to one of the three safeties ahead of him on the depth chart. Expect him to primarily serve as a special teamer in 2021, though the Seahawks are more than confident in his defensive ability if he needs to be called upon as a replacement once again. His spot on the 53-man roster should be safe barring an unexpected regression in camp and the preseason.

Previous Seahawks 90-Man Roster Primers

Alex McGough | Darvin Kidsy | Greg Eiland | Joshua Moon | Cam Sutton | Walter Palmore | Jared Hocker | Brad Lundblade | Aashari Crosswell | Myles Adams | Jon Rhattigan | Aaron Fuller | Bryan Mills I Jake Curhan | Jarrod Hewitt | Connor Wedington | Nate Evans | Danny Etling | John Ursua | Gavin Heslop | Pier-Oliver Lestage | Tamorrion Terry | Tommy Champion | Cody Thompson | Josh Johnson | Saivion Smith | Jordan Miller | Aaron Donkor | Robert Nkemdiche | Alex Collins | Tyler Mabry | Damarious Randall | Cade Johnson | Cedrick Lattimore | Phil Haynes | Geno Smith | Kyle Fuller | Travis Homer | Tyler Ott | Rasheem Green | Ben Burr-Kirven | Penny Hart | Jamarco Jones | Aldon Smith | DeeJay Dallas | Nick Bellore | Stone Forsythe | Colby Parkinson | Al Woods | Cedric Ogbuehi | Alton Robinson | Jordan Simmons | Pierre Desir