This week’s Underestimated NFL Player Spotlight is here. This week’s spotlight will be focused on a defensive player on a team still fighting for playoffs. This player is on the Detroit Lions, who need a win this weekend, and a Seattle Seahawks loss in order to make playoffs this year. This week’s Underestimated NFL Player is Alex Anzalone, one of the linebackers on the Lions’ defense.
Underestimated NFL Player: College
Linebacker Alex Anzalone played for the Florida Gators for four years, three of those seasons the team had bowl games. Anzalone played from 2013 to 2016, but really only played in his final year, which adds to why he has been an underestimated NFL Player. In his four years, the linebacker had a total of 75 combined tackles, 33 of which were solo, according to Sports Reference. He also had a total of three sacks, two pass deflections, and one fumble recovery.
With most of his statistics coming from his final year in 2016, it can be understandable why he has been an underestimated NFL player. In his final year, the linebacker played in just eight games. In those games, he had a total of 53 combined tackles, 22 of which have been solo. It was his final season when he had three sacks, two pass deflections, and a fumble recovery. Despite not playing many games, Anzalone still was picked in the NFL draft.
Underestimated NFL Player: Career
Anzalone was drafted in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. The linebacker was the 76th overall pick. In his time in the NFL, he was with the Saints for four years and has been with the Detroit Lions for two years.
In the six years of his NFL career so far, Anzalone has had a total of 318 combined tackles, 208 of which were solo, and 6.5 sacks, according to Pro Football Reference. 15 of the tackles have been for loss, and he has had 16 quarterback hits. As for turnovers, Anzalone has had three interceptions and one fumble recovery. He has yet to score off of a turnover, but there is still time as he is only 28.
The linebacker has had a history of injuries which has hurt his NFL career. As of now, the 2022 season has been the only game where he has started all 16 games, with one remaining. As of now, he should be playing in the final game of the season. Having a history of injuries makes him an underestimated NFL player, but he has shown that when he is healthy he can be a clutch player.
Underestimated NFL Player: 2022 Season
This 2022 season has definitely been one of Anzalone’s best years. A large part of that has been because he is finally healthy. With that being said, he has been an underestimated NFL player all year. In just his second year with Detroit, he has proven valuable. In 2021, he almost played a full season but only played in 14 games.
This season, Anzalone has had a total of 117 combined tackles, 74 of which have been solo, according to ESPN. he has had 1.5 sacks this year as well, along with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Anzalone has also had one interception. With one game left in the regular reason, the linebacker has a chance to force more turnovers and potentially score in their game against the Green Bay Packers.
In order to make playoffs, the Detroit Lions need the Seattle Seahawks to lose to the LA Rams, as well as they need to beat the Packers. The Lions will play the Packers on Sunday Night Football, already knowing the outcome of the Seahawks game. Be sure to watch this week’s Underestimated NFL Player as he tries to push his team into playoffs.
For more NFL and NCAA Content:
Check out my most recent article on the 2023 Rose Bowl. Also, be sure to check out these two 49ers’ articles on the standout players against the Raiders, and why their close game is not a bad thing.
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