When Saints coaches Rob Ryan and Joe Vitt met with Stephone Anthony at his pro day, Saints fans were cautiously optimistic about adding the bruising but little known linebacker to the Saints defense. After all, Anthony played inside linebacker and the Saints history had been to add inside linebackers in free agency given the demands of the position.  (The ILB’s run the on-field defense near the line of scrimmage, helping players to line up especially in the loud confines of the dome. He is the player who aligns and assigns.)  Historically, this position was entrusted to a veteran such as Curtis Lofton or Jonathan Vilma.  Although Stephone Anthony falls behind David Hawthorne and Dannell Ellerbe on the depth chart, the simplification of the playbook (line up and go) may mean Anthony will see the field more often than he would have in an earlier season.

“Inside linebacker was another position we felt we wanted to draft,” said Saints coach Sean Payton. “It’s really a position we haven’t drafted, I think there have been one or two true inside linebackers in the last 10 years.”

Anthony developed a little bit of chemistry on his pro day with Ryan and Vitt.  “We had an excellent meeting,” Anthony said. “I met with coach Payton, coach Rob Ryan and coach (Joe) Vitt, the linebackers coach. He’s going to be an exciting guy to play for. There was just something about those guys. We clicked.”

Stephen Anthony’s chemistry with his coaches and fellow players is developing.  Sean Payton envisioned him as a middle linebacker, and in organized team activities, that’s where he has lined up, playing well, and given align and assign duties as well.

One of the things that drew the Saints to Anthony was his natural leadership ability.  “We loved the make-up. He’s sharp. He’s the leader of their defense. When you talk to Brent Veneble, who is the head coach there, or anyone back there, his name comes up in five seconds,” Payton said. “Then the production on the film was good. Then when you look at the combine numbers, when you look at his size. Some of those things separated him in a group that we felt was really good.”

Who Dat Warriors film study of Stephone Anthony by Patrick Elliot

The Butkus Award semifinalist had garnered praise from those analyzing his play during organized team activities.