Builds up speed as he goes and possesses good body control and short-area quickness when asked to separate. Displays the ability to quickly snap off routes, locate the football and uses his strong hands to pluck the throw off his frame. Is a really sure-handed option who maintains concentration in traffic, exhibits good body control and consistently is able to come down with the tough grab. Looks much more comfortable when split out, gets into his routes much quicker and possesses the type of speed to threaten the seam down the field. Does a nice job looking off defenders when trying to set up his routes, sticking his foot in the ground and accelerating toward daylight vertically.
Impression: He’s a natural pass catcher who can create some mismatches for you in the pass game, but limits himself because of his size and inability to hold up as a blocker. More of a late round, H-back type option who will be able to win for you vs. man-coverage, but needs to be split out."
McNeill redshirted his first season in Lincoln after suffering a leg injury in preseason practices; he also had shoulder surgery in November. He missed 2007 spring practices after the surgery and struggled through other injuries while playing in eight games the following fall, his only reception covering 25 yards.
McNeill got his chance to start as a junior (all 12 games) and set a Huskers record for tight ends with 32 receptions while racking up 442 yards and six scores. His production dipped a bit in 2009 (28-266-4), but head coach Bo Pelini stated in April 2010 that it was a product of him not being found, not because he wasn't open. At any rate, the league media (second team) and coaches (honorable mention) still included him in their all-conference squads.
Although it would appear McNeill picked his jersey number to emulate similarly-built Indianapolis Colts tight end Dallas Clark, the 44 is actually a tribute to his grandfather, who played end in high school in the 1930's. Still, scouts can't help but see a mid-round version of the Colts' All-Pro pass receiver when they watch McNeill's ability to run crisp routes, catch almost anything thrown his way and threaten the seam using his height and fair speed.
Strengths: Reliable receiver who will be a safety valve for his quarterback at the next level. Uses hands, not his chest, to catch balls when facing the quarterback. Secures catches with both hands before going upfield. Goes up to get high passes and adjusts well to those thrown behind him, even with defenders breathing down his neck over the middle. Tracks balls over his shoulder, does not need to slow down to make the catch. Smart route-runner who moves the chains because he always knows where the first down marker is. Sidesteps or dips under the shoulder of defensive ends to get into his route. Gets to speed quickly enough to threaten the seam against linebackers. Looks to free up when his quarterback scrambles. Uses his hands to get past defenders in the path of his appointed route. Does not go down easily, will work through one or two tacklers to get extra yards. Coaches are willing to move McNeill around within the offense because of his detailed knowledge of the offense and excellent work ethic.
Weaknesses: Lacks elite speed, elusiveness or size. Inconsistent sinking his hips when sitting down in stop routes in front of linebackers. Will not separate using speed but can make catches over defenders and shields them from the ball with his frame. His slight frame does not lend itself to standing up against NFL defensive ends as a blocker, though the effort is there. Inconsistent hitting linebackers and safeties at the second level; stronger players get under his pads and he will hesitate before reaching them so they can avoid his block. Needs to maintain weight during the season, has struggled with that in the past. Went through a few injuries early in his career: hamstring pulls on both legs, shoulder, broken right hand."
Positive: Athletic tight end with dependable hands. Fluid releasing off the line, sells routes, and is quick getting to top speed. Runs sharp routes, quickly getting into breaks and staying low on exit. Runs well laterally and makes catches in stride. Nicely adjusts to errant throws, extends his hands, and offers the quarterback a big target. Good eye/hand coordination and looks the pass in. Consistently extends to make the reception away from his frame. Uses his frame to shield away defenders and protect the pass.
Negative: Gives effort blocking but shows minimal strength at the point of attack and will be overpowered by defenders. Not a true deep threat at tight end that consistently creates mismatches in the secondary.
Analysis: Prior to moving to receiver last year, McNeill was one of the better pass catching tight ends in the nation. He possesses poor size/speed numbers for the next level but will be a solid number two at his position in a system that consistently puts him in motion and does not make blocking a primary responsibility."
Negatives: Not real explosive or sudden... Simply an underneath target... Lacks elusiveness in open field... Can be pushed off routes... Has some difficulty beating linebacker jams... Plays in a run-first offense, doesn't get thrown to enough... Not much of an in-line blocker... Lacks ideal bulk... Not especially strong at POA... Doesn't generate much power... Can be pushed back and can be driven off the ball... Durability concerns, has battled turf toe, leg, shoulder and rib injuries throughout his career."
2009 -- Started all 14 games at TE for the second straight season and was second in receptions and tied for first in TD receptions. Second-Team All-Big 12 selection (AP).
Strengths: Smooth, fast and athletic. Excellent body control and can adjust to make difficult catches. Great hands. Goes over the middle and will take a shot. Runs well after the catch. Quick and gets open. Willing blocker. Can line up both wide and in the slot.
Weaknesses: Small for a TE and not an accomplished blocker. Tries hard, but lacks the strength to match up with defenders at the point. Played in a run-oriented offense in college so has a lot to learn about the NFL passing game. Likely a role player at the next level.
Projection: Excellent H-back candidate has a chance to shine a few years down the road as a pass catcher. Could go anywhere from the fourth to seventh rounds."
The Nebraska passing game is quite limited this season and McNeill's numbers have suffered because of it. He has only caught six passes, but those six passes have been big plays resulting in a total of 130 yards and a trip to the end zone. Yet, McNeill is still in there blocking and that is what the Cornhuskers need with quarterback Taylor Martinez running all over the place.
McNeill's lack of flashiness (even by tight end standards) will keep him off the radar for now. Even his 6-4 frame is undersized for a red zone target in the NFL, but he keeps doing what his team needs him to do and doing it well. That will not translate into hearing his name called during the first couple of rounds of the draft, but some team will be getting a good value in the fourth or fifth round."
Mike McNeil offers very little to write home about as a Blocker. At his size, Wing Back is absolutely out of the question as a career choice.
However, as a Wing End ~ my term for a Tight End who does a lot more Receiving than Blocking ~ he commands an outstanding set of skills: nothing special in his Launch Speed, but his Navigation is excellent, his Instincts are great, and his Hands are terrific. He could be a very effective weapon, as long as he's not asked to block too often.
As always, the preceding thoughts were regurgitated, derivative tripe, adding no value whatsoever, while in fact obliterating intelligent thought and offending the spirit of all decent men. You are now stupider for having read it, and are encouraged, in the strongest possible language, never to expose your eyes to this Site again.