Going into the 2023 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints needed help at linebacker after losing Kaden Ellis in free agency to the Falcons. After not drafting a linebacker with any of their six picks, the Saints signed undrafted free agent Anfernee Orji to a deal worth 216,000 dollars guaranteed. The former Vanderbilt linebacker was expected to be picked in the sixth or seventh round by many draft experts but found himself without a team as Mr. Irrelevant was being announced.
#Saints sign Anfernee Orji to undrafted free agent deal with $216,000 guarantee, per a league source— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) April 29, 2023
Orji was a three-year starter and captain at Vanderbilt and has been one of the most productive linebackers in the nation since. Since 2021, he’s totaled 198 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and two sacks. His 106-tackle performance in 2022 (4th most in the conference) earned him Second Team All-SEC honors.
Coming in at 6’1, 230, Orji is an undersized linebacker, but what he lacks in size, he makes up with his athleticism and football IQ.
Orji put on a show at the 2023 NFL Combine. He recorded the highest vertical, jumping 38.5 inches and had a stellar 40-yard dash and 10-yard split with 4.53 and 1.51 respectively.
The Saints don’t have a whole lot of depth at the linebacker position behind All-Pro Demario Davis and Pete Werner. 2022 5th round pick Demarco Jackson missed last season due to injury and Zach Baun has not produced at the level many thought he would. If Orji can show any signs of the potential he showed at Vanderbilt, he could easily land on the 53-man roster.
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