The Saints celebrated a full-circle moment on Sunday when they agreed to a deal with undrafted rookie Lorenzo Neal Jr.
Neal, who was at New Orleans’ rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, is the son of the Saints fourth-round draft pick in the 1993 NFL Draft, Lorenzo Neal.
The elder Neal was a two-time All-Pro at the fullback position and enjoyed a 16-year career in the NFL. He played for eight teams and enjoyed his most fruitful years during his five-year stint with the Chargers (2003-2007).
The younger Neal plays on the other side of the ball at defensive tackle. In four seasons at Purdue, the 6-3, 325-pound defensive lineman racked up 72 tackles and four sacks in 30 games for the Boilermakers.
He missed the entire 2019 season with a torn ACL. That injury, along with a merely decent final season at Purdue — during which he logged 10 tackles in five games with no sacks — caused him to fall to the ranks of the undrafted.
But Neal Jr. is looking forward to proving himself in the same place that his father started his career.
Starting my career at the same place as my pops ⚜️⚜️ https://t.co/OXkRQu96k5
— Lorenzo Neal (@loneal_9) May 17, 2021
Considering the luck that the Saints have had finding undrafted defensive tackles lately — Shy Tuttle (undrafted in 2019) and Malcolm Roach (undrafted in 2020) both played more than 20 percent of the defensive snaps last year — it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the younger Neal find a role in New Orleans.