Keanu Neal (Florida) with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Atlanta Falcons as the number seventeen overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at Auditorium Theatre. Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons held on to their No. 17 overall pick to draft safety Keanu Neal from Florida University in the NFL Draft in the Auditorium Theatre Thursday.

The pick was a little bit of a surprise because Neal was not expected to be a first-round pick ranked lower on many experts' draft boards. 

But with his draft stock rising, the Falcons knew what kind of player they wanted, and they were afraid to trade back in the draft with how the Draft was going thus far.

"On the field, this is an aggressive player," Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said. "I love that style, and I know that's what makes his own defense come to life."

"When people started going in certain spots, it made us believe that we need to jump on this right away," Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff said.

"We weren't focused on trying to get him picked later. We we're trying to figure out what was there as far as opportunity."

Neal had 94 tackles, three sacks and one interception in his senior season with the Florida Gators.

By Lena Sullivan 04/29/2016 06:20:00

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