The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a great foundation in place defensively heading into the 2023 NFL season. With players like Vita Vea, Lavonte David, Shaq Barrett, Carlton Davis and Devin White the defense looks to continue it’s climb towards greatness.
The Buccaneers also added defensive lineman Calijah Kancey and pass rusher YaYa Diaby in the draft. But it’s a free agent signing that caught PFF’s Zoltan Buday as the Bucs’ potential breakout player for the team in 2023.
That player is free agent safety Ryan Neal. Buday explains further.
“Neal started the 2022 season as a backup for the Seahawks but became a starter due to Jamal Adams’s injury and poor performances from Josh Jones. He was PFF’s highest-graded safety (91.1) between Week 7 and 15, and he finished as the seventh highest-graded safety in the league over the whole campaign. Projected to start from Week 1 in the Bucs’ defense, Neal has a chance to be among the league’s top safeties by the end of the season.”
Neal filled in for Seattle’s injured safety Jamal Adams by posting 25 solo tackles, eight passes defensed, two forced fumbles and an interception. Solid numbers for a backup and his ceiling appears to be higher.
The Buccaneers signed Neal in early April where the team’s senior Scott Smith of buccaneers.com had this to report.
“On Thursday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Neal to a one-year contract, bringing one of the NFL’s 2022 breakout players across the country from Seattle. Neal joins a Buccaneers secondary that has already seen safeties Mike Edwards and Keanu Neal depart in free agency, while Logan Ryan remains unsigned. Edwards, Keanu Neal and Ryan combined to make 28 starts at safety for Tampa Bay last season. Ryan Neal joins Antoine Winfield Jr. and Nolan Turner as the only safeties currently on the Buccaneers’ roster.”
Pairing him with Antoine Winfield Jr could make the two the most formidable safety duo in the league.