Hailing from Clemson University, Stephone Anthony took advantage of a stellar combine performance to jump higher than expected and was selected by the New Orleans towards the end of the first round with their 31st overall pick. Let us begin by looking back at this college career. He was selected to the first team All-ACC in 2014, and was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award that same year. He led Clemson in tackles with 90 during the 2014 season, and had 131 tackles in 2013. At the combine, he was the top performer at his position for the 40-yard dash, turning in a time of 4.56 seconds. He also did 23 reps on the bench press for his weight, and had a 7.07 second 3-cone drill. Rounding it out, he showed off a 370.0 include vertical jump and 122.0 inch broad jump. All numbers were quite respectable for his position, which might have contributed to him jumping higher in the draft than many expected.
At 6’3” and 243 pounds, Anthony is well build for the inside linebacker position. He is fast, and he consistently stays under control. He is also a consistency tackler when squared up properly against the opposing team, but tends to lose focus when he is not. He has also demonstrated the speed necessary to chase players down the sidelines, and he has great follow through to see a play through to the end. Another strength lies in his ability to break up a pass play, and he has shown promise at being able to blitz. He has shown that he has a good work ethic and is determined to excel at the next level, as demonstrated by his ability to regain his starting position at Clemson in 2013, after losing it the previous year.
Graphic via neworleanssaints
A somewhat major weakness that will need to be overcome is that he has poor leverage when being forced to take on blocks, which will not suit him well at the pro level. He also needs to learn to use his hands better, and work on using better arm extension in order to keep blocker off of him. At the collegiate level, running backs often create a mismatch for him, particularly down the field in a passing game. In the end, however, these weaknesses can be overcome with proper coaching and maturity at the pro level, along with bulking up and becoming more physical.
Anthony has shown that his best football might be ahead of him. He had a great bowl game for Clemson and has been working hard this offseason to prepare for his shot at the NFL. He is not likely to blow the opportunity has been handed him by being selected in the first round. so the Saints will likely be the beneficiary of a focused and disciplined rookie.
Graphic via bleacherreport