Breakdown: Saints Select Stephone Anthony

Everything you need to know about the New Orleans Saints’ first-round selection of inside linebacker Stephone Anthony out of Clemson from Scout's college and pro football experts.

Awaiting Image
Stephone Anthony
Clemson / 6'3 / 243 lbs
  • MLB
  • [1] #31

Analysis

Anthony played virtually all four years at Clemson, starting 36 times. He racked up an impressive 330 tackles, 9.5 sacks and 34.5 tackles for a loss. He has good size and is thick, strong and compact at 6-foot-3, 243-pounds. Anthony plays downhill and is physical. He can play inside-out and get to the perimeter to make plays on the outside. Anthony is also an effective defender in coverage.

Dave-Te' Thomas Player Evaluation

The Saints need help defensively and here New Orleans goes with a terrific inside linebacker in Stephone Anthony. He played virtually all four years at Clemson, starting 36 times. He racked up an impressive 330 tackles, 9.5 sacks and 34.5 tackles for a loss. He has good size and is thick, strong and compact at 6-foot-3, 243-pounds. Anthony plays downhill and is physical. He can play inside-out and get to the perimeter to make plays on the outside. Anthony is also an effective defender in coverage.

All media attention has been accorded Tigers rush end Vic Beasley, but Stephone Anthony is regarded by the staff and teammates as the defensive unit’s true MVP. Having started 35 times during his 52-game career, Anthony is the team’s active leader with 330 total tackles, the 23rd-best figure for major college players that competed in 2014. His 210 solo stops also rank ninth and 34.5 stops-for-loss placed tied for 15th among active FBS performers.

Anthony stepped into the starting lineup during the second half of his sophomore season, as he tallied 77 tackles that year. He followed with a career-high 132 hits in 2013, totaling 13.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage on the way to All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors. Named to the All-ACC team in 2014, he led the Tigers with 89 tackles, coming up with 10.5 stops-for-loss, as four of his eleven QB pressures resulted in turnovers.

Anthony is a very athletic defender, showing the hip swerve and flexibility you find in a player that some teams might feel will be more advantageous as a weak-side outside linebacker, rather than performing as a classic middle linebacker. He shows suddenness in his initial move off the ball and gets to top speed quickly. He is very quick coming off the snap, staying low in his pads while generating quick lateral movements to string the plays wide. He has the natural ability to always anticipate the flow of the ball.

Anthony is a solid wrap-up tackler who extends his arms properly to stalk and secure. He is the type that collides with ball carriers upon initial contact and has the strength to shed blocks and stay on the ball. He shows ease of movement getting to the ball when working in space. He has the leg drive and strength to get the ball carrier on the ground instantly. He takes no wasted steps in transition and is quick to turn coming out of his backpedal.

The Tiger flips his hips properly and plays at a good pad level. He shows no stiffness in his turns and this allows him to drop off quickly. He stays focused throughout the play and knows his teammates’ assignments well enough to line other players. He plays with savvy and knows what he’s doing on every down. He spends a lot of time watching film and preparing for the opponent, so much so, his defensive coordinator allowed him to be involved with coaches in their game planning.

Anthony plays at a low pad level, demonstrating good strength. He has enough hand strength to shed blocks quickly, doing a nice job of extending to keep blockers from attacking his body. He has the ease of movement agility to flow to the ball, staying at a proper pad level to extend, wrap and secure as a tackler. He constantly keeps his legs moving on contact, doing a nice job of driving the ball carrier back.

When he takes on blocks with his hands, he will generally separate and get off blocks quickly. Anthony takes good angles in pursuit and stays low in his pads to deliver a clean wrap-up tackle. He shows explosive acceleration when closing and has a natural flow in his backpedal. The thing you see on film is his ability to run through and around traffic. He gives great effort in pursuit and still plays under control to properly read and adjust to the flow of the ball.

Anthony uses his hands well, showing good strength to jolt and redirect tight ends on pass routes. He plays bigger than his size indicates, showing good physicality in his game. He uses his hands effectively to keep blockers off his feet and get around trash quickly. In man coverage, he has the quickness of a safety, as he can turn and run with most tight ends and running backs.

The senior looks natural maintaining position on the receiver when working underneath. His quick feet allow him to shadow even the speedier receivers on deep routes, doing a nice job of opening his hips to turn and run. He has more than enough redirection agility and flow to the ball quickness to cover tight ends and backs in the short area and always seems to be in position to make plays on the ball.

Against the outside run, few linebackers in college excel in this area like Anthony. He has the speed and burst to head off ball carriers along the corners. He is a smart player who stays in control, but also shows urgency in making the play. He has the range to make plays sideline to sideline. His change of direction skills lets him cover large portions of the field. He runs to the ball well and has the hand usage to slip off passive blocks.

When he closes on the ball, he will usually take good angles. His speed is evident when he simply explodes and accelerates to close. He has that rare extra burst (do not look at his timed speed, he carries his pads well and plays much faster than even that impressive stop-watch time indicates) to get to the outside, maintaining balance and body control as he does an excellent job of avoiding trash and cut blocks.

Anthony would stay back more and wait for the play to come to him rather than blitz, as that was part of the Clemson scheme – push action inside and let their rush ends impact the backfield from the edges. Still, he generated 39 total tackles-for-loss (28 solos, 11 assists) and it is rare to see him get caught up vs. inside trash due.

The Tiger shows effort as a blitzer, but is more effective flowing to the ball than attacking from the back side (making him a nice fit at either the middle or the weak-side inside position). In limited opportunities to rush the passer, Anthony did show the speed to close and run down plays, but is better served finding the lanes and plugging those gaps.

Stephone Anthony NFL Scouting Combine measurables


6-3/240 (4.56 forty)
32 1/2-inch arm length
10 3/8-inch hands
23-reps
37-inch vertical jump
122-inch broad jump
7.07 3 cone drill
4.03 20 yard shuttle

Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.

SCOUT.COM DRAFT RANKINGS

Prospects by: OVERALL RANK | Position | College | Home State | Name
Position:
QB RB FB WR TE OT OG C DT DE OLB MLB S CB K P LS


Related: NFL Scouting Combine Coverage

Scout NFL Network Top Stories