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Alex Anzalone, LB: He's A Starting Linebacker In The NFL. Can He Stay Healthy?

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Hogs Haven takes a look at 2017 Draft prospects that could contribute to the Redskins

Kentucky v Florida Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Alex Anzalone, LB
School: Florida | Conference: SEC
College Experience: RS Senior | Age: 23?
Height / Weight: 6-3 / 241 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 3rd to 5th Round ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
NFL Comparison: Jordan Hicks

College Statistics

Player Overview

Alex Anzalone has been sidelined by so many injuries while at Florida and has never played a full season. He injured his shoulder twice and his season was ended early this year with a broken arm. He flashes great athletic ability, instincts, aggression and has good pass rush skills and can play the run well. I noticed him almost immediately months ago when watching Florida games intending to watch Jarrad Davis. Right now Anzalone is healthy and has had a fantastic offseason. He showed how much of a talent he is at the Senior Bowl and proved his athletic talent at the combine and his pro day. One thing is indisputable: if Anzalone is healthy he is one of the top linebacker talents in the draft.

Strengths

  • Has great size for the position and has the skill set to play in any base defense and arguably at both outside and inside linebacker.
  • Fluid movements allow him to navigate space well and change direction. Understands angles and knows how to exploit the most efficient path to the QB or backfield.
  • Plays with urgency and reckless abandon which is good but probably warrants concern given his injury history. Aggressive and has no problem taking on an OL or other blockers to get to the spot he needs to be.
  • Good athlete with impressive short-area quickness. Has the speed and burst to cover most TEs and RBs out of the backfield.

Weaknesses

  • Injury concerns. The shoulder injuries are the most problematic. He has never played a full season healthy.
  • Is a pass rush threat and decent in coverage but had no turnovers to show for it.
  • Can be too aggressive at times and over pursue. Needs to be coached up on play recognition, discipline, and his vision.

Let’s see his work:

How He Would Fit On The Redskins

The question potentially worth millions of dollars to NFL front offices is "Can he stay healthy?". If, and it a big if, Anzalone can stay healthy he presents a great value in the middle if the draft. It's hard to project exactly where he might go but there are several teams reportedly very high on him. If his medicals have come back clear a team will likely pull the trigger on him earlier than anticipated. Anzalone is a better athlete than both Mason Foster and Will Compton. He would be an upgrade to the position with his pass rush skills, aggression, and coverage ability. He could fill the void of the athletic linebacker the Redskins are missing. From my armchair with my GM hat on I would not feel comfortable taking a player like Anzalone before day 3 despite all his talent. His propensity for injuries is just too concerning. I do think the Redskins are in the position to gamble in the mid-later rounds despite all the needs they have on defense. With two fourth round picks and one fifth would you roll the dice on him?