GAINESVILLE, FL – SEPTEMBER 10: Alex Anzalone #34 of the Florida Gators celebrates a sack during a game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Alex Anzalone is far more businesslike than his flowing blonde hair and excessive eye black would seem to convey.
After four years as a linebacker at the University of Florida, he came into the NFL Draft process with the utmost seriousness and is intent on showing teams he’s more than just a “wild man” on the field. He’s obsessive about game film and believes that approach is one of his best selling points in pre-draft interviews.
“I feel like I’d figure out any scheme and fit well,” he said. “I have flexibility to fit anywhere.
“One of my favorite guys to watch is Luke Kuechly just because of how he diagnoses plays. We’re a little different as far as players, but there’s some similarity. I’m a student of the game and I understand what offenses are doing.”
Anzalone was one of many prospects who met with a Dolphins contingent led by vice president Mike Tannenbaum and general manager Chris Grier at last week’s Senior Bowl. Linebacker is one of the team’s biggest needs this offseason and likely will be a position they address with the 22nd or 54th pick in April’s draft.
Anzalone, a 6-foot-3, 240-pounder who can play inside or outside linebacker, is currently projected as a late second-round or third-round selection. Miami is uncertain at that position as all three intended starters from last year could be gone.
Middle linebacker Kiko Alonso is a restricted free agent this offseason, though the Dolphins have said publicly they intend to keep him after a strong season in which he led them with 115 tackles and four fumble recoveries, plus two interceptions. Assuming he’s back, Miami has to determine whether he’ll stay at middle or move outside.
Koa Misi, who has been with the team since it drafted him in 2010, lost most of the year to a neck injury and could be cut this offseason. Fellow outside linebacker Jelani Jenkins had a variety health issues and missed seven games. He’s an unrestricted free agent.
Behind the starting three, all the backup linebackers except Neville Hewitt are free agents.
That flexibility is a positive as the Dolphins look to shore up a group that needs help. It’s not entirely the linebackers’ fault, but the team was third-worst in run defense this year.
Miami is likely to look for help at the position in free agency and probably plans to draft at least one. Anzalone’s a good candidate and thinks he would thrive in the Wide 9 defense.
“I’d love to stay in Florida, but whatever team takes me takes me,” he said. “That’d be a great organization to play for. They’re up and coming. Looks like a great team.”
He had four tackles, one for negative yardage, in limited snaps at the Senior Bowl.The big question from most organizations in their meetings with […]