With the 76th overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints have selected Florida linebacker, Alex Anzalone. The Saints get back to defense by picking up some help in the linebacking corps.
Here is a look at the newest Saint, from NFL.com:
Anzalone (pronounced ann-zuh-LOAN-ee) came to Gainesville as a fantastic two-way high school star in Pennsylvania, but has spent almost as much time on the trainer's table than on the field during his career. He played in 10 games as a true freshman, only making two tackles as he struggled with a shoulder issue. Anzalone played in all 12 games as a reserve in 2014, making 14 stops, one for loss. He finally got his chance to start as a junior, but had to redshirt after injuring his shoulder again in the second game of the year (six tackles). The linebacker known for his long, blonde hair started the Gators' first eight contests in 2016, collecting 53 tackles (four TFL, three sacks) but again was sidelined for the end of the season with a broken left arm.
STRENGTHSHas desired size and athleticism to fit into any defensive scheme. His fluid hips allow for easy flips and turns in space. Wide open strider with plus range. Makes up plenty of ground to the perimeter when looking to reel in running backs. Plays with gap-to-gap lateral quickness in his shuffle. Races downhill to get a taste of what iso blockers are serving up. Three-down linebacker who showed off the speed to carry running backs down the field in coverage. Has experience playing all three linebacker spots. Squeezes routes from zone and has acceleration to match seam-running tight-ends. Has closing burst and enough wiggle to challenge the pocket as a blitzer.
WEAKNESSESHas had substantial injuries in his background that helped limit his playing time and production. Has no interceptions or forced fumbles at Florida. Plays with inconsistent base. Contact balance is very average. Needs to improve with taking on pulling guards and cross blocking H-backs. Disengagement takes too long and he expends too much energy. Needs to punch and move to avoid being engulfed by linemen. Gets moved out of his run fits by misdirection. Overreacts to play fakes and will lose sight of the ball. At times, will look to do too much in coverage rather than just manning his position.
DRAFT PROJECTIONRounds 2-3
SOURCES TELL US"You saw at (Senior Bowl) practice how gifted he is athletically. He just has to prove he can stay on the field." -- NFC Personnel Director
NFL COMPARISONVincent Ray
BOTTOM LINEAnzalone's size, speed and athleticism will be tempting for teams looking for a linebacker who can play all three spots. However, concerns about his durability could cause some teams to shy away from him on the first two days of the draft. If he can stay healthy, he has the talent to become a solid three-down starter in the league.
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