No doubt defensive coordinator Bob Diaco is fired up with the forming linebacker unit he has headed to South Bend in 2013. Alex Anzalone (Wyomissing, Pa.) joins Jaylon Smith (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers) to give ND a pair of top-5 rated outside linebackers with immediate impact type of talent at a position of need. While Smith is the highest rated of the two, Anzalone might bring the most flexibility to Diaco’s defense, which can move from a 3-4 to a 4-3 and needs scheme versatile front-seven defenders.
Anzalone has the bulk and strength at the point of attack to play the middle in the 3-4 and fill the eventual void left by Manti Te’o. He is explosive on contact when stacking and filling the inside run but he has the range and pass-rush ability off the edge to play on the outside as well and flourish in a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. Overall he is a stout, disruptive defender with enough athleticism to move around the box and play in space when needed. We expect this Pennsylvania native to also make his presence known on special teams and he will bring a lot of value to the Irish as an overall player.