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Five Things: Siran Neal 

The Buffalo Bills ranked top 10 in Football Outsiders' cumulative special teams rankings each of the last three seasons. A big part of that accomplishment: new Miami Dolphin, Siran Neal.

Here are five things to know about the cornerback and gunner extraordinaire.

  1. Ace Up the Sleeve

It was a 94-yard punt return touchdown that swung the Week 18 game for a division title vs. Buffalo last season. Hoping to swing those results, the Dolphins plucked Buffalo's top special teamer, Siran Neal.

Neal has been a hit in the kicking from the word go. Since he entered the NFL in 2018, Neal ranks 12th in special teams tackles (53) and first in forced fumbles (3).

On Drive Time with Travis Wingfield, Neal needed one word to describe what makes him so valuable in the game's third phase – "mindset," he said.

The will to be the first man down on kicks and the tenacity to finish the play – both traits pop off the tape when watching Siran Neal.

  1. Positionless Depth

The Dolphins have won a lot of football games the last four years, including back-to-back trips to the postseason in 2022 and 2023. Miami made the tournament despite devastating injury luck. One way to combat the impact of games lost to injury is finding players who can wear many hats.

A high school wide receiver – which is where Neal says he learned how to beat press as a gunner on punt team – Neal switched to safety in college. He eventually found his way to the cornerback position, both in the slot and on the perimeter.

In his career, Neal's played 119 snaps on the outside, 387 in the slot, 18 in the post as a free safety, 32 as a sub-package linebacker and 85 in the box as a strong safety.

One could argue special teams prowess and position flexibility are the two most important traits of a team's depth. If that's the case, Neal is a glove-like fit for Miami.

  1. Embracing His Role

"The coaching staff thinks I’m invincible," Neal joked. "I told (DB Coach John Butler), 'Coach, if I came up to you and told you I was tired?' He's like, 'I'll turn my back on you because I know you can do it.'"

There's something admirable about a player who takes on a role away from the spotlight and does it with a smile on his face. Don't let his happy, joking persona fool you. Neal's NFL career is a product of tireless work.

"He's a hard-working young man that has done a good job embracing his special teams role, also embracing the role when asked to play on defense," said Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott.

  1. Defensive Production

In the article from the third point, then Bills Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier said he felt Neal's best position was in the slot. Just like Neal's career, the nickel back doesn't often see his name on the marquee, but ball knowers understand how important, and how difficult, that position is to learn and play.

Neal would go on to prove Frazier prophetic. Since those comments in 2021, Neal's covered receivers and tight ends in the slot on 43 targets, allowing just 23 receptions for 195 yards and no touchdowns.

Here he is covering the slot against one of the game's most dangerous pass catching weapons, Travis Kelce.

  1. More Speed

The theme of speed in South Florida continues with the addition of Neal. Coming out of Jacksonville State, Neal scored a 96.6 speed score for his Combine a workout, a metric that measures speed by size and position. That speed is on display when Neal hits full speed covering punts, where he routinely tops 20 miles per hour per Next Gen Stats.

For more analysis on Siran Neal and the entire Dolphins free agent class, download the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield.