New Orleans Saints select Stephone Anthony No. 31 in 2015 NFL draft

The Saints used the pick they got from the Seahawks in the Jimmy Graham trade to surprise draftniks everywhere, selecting Clemson linebacker Stephone Anthony. 
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The Saints should be lauded for grabbing Stanford's Andrus Peat with their first of two first round picks in this draft, but the selection of Clemson's Stephone Anthony with the 31st pick is certainly a surprise. The Saints are in desperate need of pass-rush and receiving help, and Anthony isn't really a quarterback terrorizer—he'll pick up the occasional sack, but he's more a downhill thumper, capable of creating busted plays and forced fumbles in the backfield.

Anthony has the height/weight/speed attributes—he ran a 4.56 40-yard dash at the combine at 6'3" and 243 pounds—but you'd be hard-pressed to find a media big board on which he was the highest-ranked inside linebacker. Anthony tends to bite on misdirection and play action, and he's more reliant on speed than pure strength when it comes to beating blockers. Trading Jimmy Graham for what amounts to Max Unger and a decent inside linebacker? Well, that will have a lot of Saints fans scratching their heads.

• 2015 NFL draft grades: Pick-by-pick analysis and scouting reports

Strengths: Quick to diagnose runs between the tackles and explode forward into his gaps, but always stays in control. Sound technique when tackling, using his length to wrap up and get ballcarriers on the ground. Explodes through receivers in zone coverage. Displays good instincts in the short zone. Maybe not quite the classic "sideline-to-sideline" inside 'backer, but can cover ground quickly from inside-out. Tape shows he simply never gives up on a play.—Aaron Nagler

Weaknesses: Loses the leverage game far too often. Struggles downfield in coverage, especially when matched up with speedier running backs. His aggressiveness vs. runs between the tackles works against him against play action, which teams will scheme to take clear advantage of. Will have to be careful of his tendency to blow guys up over the middle when he gets to the next level. He can tend to go high and that will draw 15-yard penalties in today's NFL.​—Aaron Nagler

Player comparison: Rolando McClain

Grade: C