Stephone Anthony: The Bengals Answer at Middle Linebacker
Oct 25, 2014; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers linebacker Stephone Anthony (42) sacks Syracuse Orange quarterback AJ Long (4) during the first quarter at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
When the upcoming draft rolls around, the Bengals will have to balance their needs versus where they can realistically find answers within the draft. It’s a great balancing act between need, fit, value, and availability.
The Bengals have been great, in recent years, at finding quality players within the middle rounds of the draft; it’s really defines the difference between a good and great draft. The early rounds are generally filled with studs and the late rounds are for low risk, high reward players or your “diamonds in the rough” types, but the middle rounds are where things get tough. For the Bengals, this is where they could find their answer at middle linebacker.
This draft isn’t littered with great middle linebacker prospects. With the Bengals really needing to improve the position, this means they won’t have a lot of time to waste, yet they won’t likely be selecting one in the first two rounds due to other, more pressing needs such as both offensive and defensive tackle: With regards to the tackle positions, it’s generally get them early or don’t get them at all, as many of the great prospects are drafted incredibly early. Because of this, the Bengals will miss out on studs such as Benardrick McKinney, Denzel Perryman, and Eric Kendricks. But the battle to find their future middle linebacker isn’t over. The middle rounds present Stephone Anthony.
Stephone Anthony is an athletic linebacker who plays inside. He has good speed and quickness, and should be able to track plays to the sidelines. More importantly, he’s willing to make plays in the middle of the field against the run while also having the ability to cover tight ends across the middle. By always keeping his feet active, he is a ready and willing defender both in space and in gaps. Anthony will need some coaching and film room work, but with leadership experience–he’s always communicating with the defense–and a good attitude, according to his NFL.com profile, he has all the intangibles to become a film hound.
He’s already begun to make a name for himself this off-season. After a solid performance at the Senior Bowl, scouts started to take notice. According to Tony Pauline, an NFL Insider, Dom Capers and the Green Bay Packers are “very high” on Anthony. The Packers seems to know something about linebackers, so this should only serve to bring validity to Anthony’s talent.
Stephone Anthony could be a special player for the team that selects him. He’s a rare combination of athletic ability, leadership, and work ethic. The Bengals could likely find Anthony starting in the third round. The team will likely have two picks in this round due to a compensatory selection to account for Michael Johnson‘s loss last season, so selecting Anthony here would be an excellent idea.
Next: Bengals Must Find Answer At Middle Linebacker in Draft
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