Name: Alex Anzalone
Position fit: Inside linebacker
Stats to know: Ranked just 247th among FBS ILBs in run-stop percentage.
What he does best:
- Shows good agility when changing directions, flipping his hips on coverage drops; this agility played out at the combine, where he put up a 6.88, fourth-best among linebackers.
- Times blitzes well and uses his speed to beat blockers to his gap.
- Solid size for his position; measured just under 6-foot-3 while weighing 241 pounds at the combine.
- Straight-line speed shows up in coverage when he reads assignments correctly, as he is able to stay with tight ends on crossing and downfield routes; ran a 4.63 40 at the combine.
- Strong week of practice at the Senior Bowl, grading among the best linebackers.
- Struggles to disengage from blocks once locked onto; tends to stop his feet on contact and is too easily engulfed by bigger blockers.
- Lacks explosive closing burst, which shows up both on blitzes and in coverage.
- Tries to simply outrun blockers to the point of attack; rarely uses his hands to protect his frame.
- Doesn’t read pulls and lead blocks well and consistently gets sealed out of his gap.
- Will stop his feet and miss tackles; ranked 240th among FBS ILBs in tackling efficiency.
- Limited coverage experience in Florida; in three seasons gave up completions on 18 of 24 throws into his coverage with one pass breakup and no interceptions.
- Needs to improve his strength – too easily moved off his spot by all blockers.
- Injuries limited him to only 577 career snaps at Florida.
Player comparison: Jonathan Casillas, New York Giants
Casillas is a solid athlete who struggled to defend the run because of his inability to defeat blockers. He has been able to carve out a long NFL career because of his special teams, which is likely where Anzalone will also need to make his greatest impact (despite very limited college experience).
Bottom line: Each of Anzalone’s last two seasons was cut short due to injury; in 2015 he missed 12 games with a shoulder injury (the same shoulder limited him in 2013 as well), and last season he did not play the final four games due to a broken arm. While he is a good athlete and has the size required to play inside linebacker at the next level, he is too easily sealed and driven off the point of attack by all blocks, and needs to improve his strength in order to better hold up at the NFL level. He flashes the straight-line speed needed to be effective in coverage, but lacks the explosiveness required to break and close effectively when a step late. He will need to make his mark on special teams, but played on Florida’s teams units in just five games between 2014 and 2016.