After playing in just two games in 2015 due to injury, Alex Anzalone started off the 2016 season strong before another injury ended his season short of expectations. Missing 5+ games, Anzalone still finished third on the team in tackles with 53 in 2016. He also accounted for four tackles for loss, two sacks, and six quarterback hurries.
His 53 almost tripled his career total before the season, so his emergence as much as he did was a little bit of a surprise.
In Anzalone, the Saints are getting an incredibly high football IQ player that can run faster than expected and plays the game physically. A healthier Anzalone throughout his career would no doubt have been drafted higher, so if the he stays healthy, the Saints likely got themselves a steal in the third round.
Other than his play, Anzalone showed to be a real leader. When not on the field he was a big part of the success of the freshmen linebackers that played behind him.
Anzalone probably got a spike in his draft status as well at the NFL Scouting Combine where he performed very well.
Anzalone was the fourth gator player of the day selected on Friday and the fifth in the first two days of the NFL Draft following fellow linebacker Jarrad Davis (Lions, Round 1), safety Marcus Maye (Jets, Round 2), cornerback Quincy Wilson (Colts, Round 2), and Teez Tabor (Lions, Round 2).
Here are some highlights of Anzalone from the Senior Bowl.