Barry Jackson

Ten things to know about new Dolphins LB Anthony, including view from Saints

Dolphins new linebacker Stephone Anthony on his trade to Dolphins

Newest Dolphins linebacker, Stephone Anthony, meets with reporters the day after he was traded to Miami.
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Newest Dolphins linebacker, Stephone Anthony, meets with reporters the day after he was traded to Miami.

Ten things about new Dolphins linebacker Stephone Anthony, the 31st pick of the 2015 draft who was acquired from New Orleans on Tuesday after Lawrence Timmons was placed on indefinite suspension:

• Saints coach Sean Payton succinctly assessed Anthony, 25, a while back when he said he is "explosive" and "disruptive" but "keys, diagnosis and instincts at times are off."

Translation: He doesn’t react quickly enough. He isn’t very good at deciphering or anticipating offensive calls or formations. And he doesn’t always run the right way.

• Even though he started 16 games as a rookie and was named to the Pro Football Writers association all rookie team, problems arose. He missed 15 tackles as a rookie. He had breakdowns in coverage. And Pro Football Focus rated him only 71st among about 90 qualifying linebackers.

• Then 2016 arrived and Anthony lost his starting job, playing only 10 games and starting three.

• Larry Holder of the New Orleans Time Picayune gave this cuttingly candid assessment of Anthony on nola.com today:

“It was a total miss. Eric Kendricks should have been the pick. Instead, the Vikings selected the middle linebacker 14 picks later (one pick after Hau'oli Kikaha).

“On paper, Anthony appeared to be a budding tackling machine with 112 total tackles. The mark broke the Saints rookie tackles record previously held by Hall of Famer Rickey Jackson. As we've learned by now, tackles stats can be an illusion.

“Anthony struggled learning the defense, in part of having two defensive coordinators in his year in Year 1 with Rob Ryan and then Dennis Allen calling the shots. I can't say for certain how much this stunted Anthony's growth, but it sure couldn't have helped.

“The Saints then tried moving Anthony to strongside linebacker in 2016. The move represented a demotion and a lack of faith in Anthony's ability to handle calling the defense and play every down. Anthony looked lost in the role in the few moments of playing time he found in 2016.

“It became so bad for Anthony that Sean Payton and Dennis Allen couldn't hide the truth publicly. They said how Anthony couldn't even etch out a job on special teams, much less on defense.

“Stuck with a guaranteed contract, the Saints gave Anthony one last shot to earn a spot on the roster this offseason. They shifted him to weakside linebacker to start the offseason workouts. Anthony couldn't handle that job either.

“A major lack of depth at linebacker, and likely the guaranteed contract, pushed the Saints to keep Anthony on the 53-man roster after training camp despite knowing Anthony had no role with this team.

“Honestly, it's a miracle the Saints nabbed that high of a pick for the first-round draft bust. I guess Joe Vitt yearned for one more shot with Anthony. He's a consultant for his son-in-law Adam Gase with the Dolphins.

• The Dolphins gave up a 2018 fifth-round pick in the deal.

• Anthony hasn’t exactly made a lot of disruptive plays. In two seasons (he hasn’t played this year), he has a grand total of one sack, one interception and two forced fumbles in 26 career games.

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Former New Orleans Saints linebacker Stephone Anthony who was traded to the Miami Dolphins is shown here at Miami Dolphins football practice on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. AL DIAZ adiaz@miamiherald.com

• Here was Lance Zierlein’s assessment of Anthony coming out of Clemson before the 2015 NFL draft:

STRENGTHS

“Has desired build for position. Good play speed and is generally under control. Steady, consistent tackler when he's squared up. Has speed to chase to the sidelines and finish the play. Able to cover tight ends in passing game. Breaks to ball quickly against pass. Flashes ball skills and will play through pass-catchers. Features traits to be a more effective blitzer if called upon. Will compete through whistle and is physical against skill-position players. Lost job as junior and regained starting position with hard work and good attitude. Can cover ground laterally.”

WEAKNESSES

“Below average take-on skills. Plays with poor leverage when taking on blocks. Needs to improve hand usage and utilize better arm extension to keep blockers off him. Has tendency to side-step blocks and open run lanes. Can be mismatched by running backs down the field in passing game. Slow to process and recover against play-action. There are times he gets downhill without diagnosing first, creating bad angles to the ball against outside runs.”

OVERALL

“Anthony showed off his athleticism this post season and now the question becomes whether he can play fast all the time as a pro. He tries to get downhill and make plays, but more often it feels like he's guessing rather than instinctive. If he can play with more control and play to his traits, he'll be a starting linebacker in the league.”

• Anthony was inactive the first two games with a high ankle sprain that limited him in practice. He passed his Dolphins physical.

• Payton, speaking to New Orleans media Wednesday on the trade: "I love this kid, I think the world of him. Hopefully, he can bounce back. Unfortunately, his injury during training camp really prevented him from getting the snaps we wanted to see.”

• Anthony is owed $1.1 million in base salary this season and $1.1 million next season in the final year of his rookie contract. He has a $2.1 million cap hit this season and $2.5 million hit next season.

If the Dolphins release him before next season, his dead money on Miami’s 2018 cap would be $400,000.

Here’s a six-pack of Marlins notes from Wednesday, including some ownership news.

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