I've covered T.J. in the past (link), and think he has tremendous upside at the position; his strong history of performance at Illinois (244 total tackles over three seasons [90 solo, 154 assists], 22.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 5 passes defended, 1 forced fumble and an interception) makes that obvious. That being said, with Saturday's performance against Vanderbilt, Neal has proven that he can not only play but thrive in multiple defensive systems. T.J. is a student of the game who works hard in the film room and on the practice field, and this game proves that he has tremendous upside at the position.
While T.J. Neal hasn't received nearly enough coverage from draft analysts over the course of the 2016 college season, with a performance like this, expect that to change. One thing is certain: he is a phenomenal prospect who will be an asset to any NFL team that gives him a chance. He is a player that absolutely HAS to be on watch lists and draft boards heading through the rest of the college season and offseason. Somebody is going to get a huge steal with this kid, wherever he is drafted.--Mike B.