Found October 29, 2013 on Optimum Scouting:

For a team that has a new coaching staff, a rookie quarterback starting (when healthy), and their best offensive player CJ Spiller battling injuries most of the year, the Bills have battled through a rough 8 game schedule, ending with 4 wins and just 4 points away  from being first in the AFC East.

Despite not consistently showing in the stat-line, much of that credit falls on the defense’s success to keep scores close late in games and give whomever is playing quarterback a chance to cement a win. And even though the defense boasts former first rounders Marcell Darus, Mario Williams, Leodis McKelvin, and Stephon Gilmore, it’s rookie Kiko Alonso that has solidified this defense and been the leader this team has needed.

Thanks to discipline, injury, and off the field concerns, the talented Alonso was ranked as our #7 inside linebacker. Here’s what our pre-draft scouting report on Alonso had to say from his time at Oregon:

“Alonso is might be best suited for 4-3 outside linebacker position because he lacks the instincts and technique to take on blocks up the middle and diagnose. He loves to disrupt the backfield. Coaches can get creative with him, but if he stays inside its best he does as a weakside middle 'backer. Alonso has injury concerns, spending the 2010 rehabbing a knee injury.

He was suspended that season for a DUI arrest and sat out the 2011 season opener after being arrested for burglary and trespassing. Teams will like his intensity and active play but must decide if he's willing to remain disciplined off the field as well as on the field, where he must become a more cerebral player.”

Alonso has seized his opportunity this year as the Bills middle linebacker, producing early in the season and quickly forcing teams to gameplan around his talents. Showcasing the ability to both attack upfield in run support as well as dip into short area coverage, Alonso’s season stat-line boasts 81 total tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, and 4 interceptions.

RELATED LINK: Barkevious Mingo Shows He's Still a Work In Progress Against the Packers

As an inside linebacker, his primary responsibilities are to collapse any hole openings in the interior, finish tackles in the B-gaps (outside the guards), and be efficient in his coverage drops to limit drag routes/interior hitch routes. With one of the most explosive first and second steps in run support, Alonso has been able to finish tackles consistently in the middle of the field. He finds gaps between blockers very well, adjust his body and staying low effectively. And, maybe more importantly for a young linebacker, he’s willing to stay true to his run fits and embrace contact to free up another linebacker. He could use his hands better with improved initial inside placement to potential escape blockers smoother.

In the play below, you can see Alonso’s decisive read steps and explosive burst to shoot past his expected blocker to make a play in the backfield in run support. While this is certainly in Alonso’s area to make a play on the ball carrier, notice how easily he brushes off a potential blocker to finish the play for a minimal gain.

And in this play, you can see Alonso make his first read step to the playside, then take a long, explosive second step to attack the backfield and finish the tackle for a loss. Against most front sevens, the blocking gets far enough upfield to open a crease for the running back and allows for an alley on the outside. But it’s Alonso’s second step that forces the runner to hesitate and be dragged down for a loss.

 


As stated earlier, one of Alonso’s college concerns was his lack of discipline in his running lanes in pursuit, especially at the second level. While his discipline has improved since his time at Oregon (likely thanks to playing closer to the line on many occasions with the Bills), it’s still an issue he needs to continue to work on. In the play below, he tries to sneak under his blockers grasp, but instead leaves a gaping hole for Pierre Thomas to run through.



Kiko Alonso is the leader in the “Defensive Rookie of the Year” clubhouse, and based on his successes so far this year, it’d be a surprise if he didn’t end up with the award. He’s shown the ability to be effective in running plays in the box, attack on the perimeter, rush the passer efficiently, and dip in coverage in the short area. He’s shown everything and more that the Bills hoped they’d get when the drafted him 46th overall.

Alonso, like any rookie, has areas where he can still improve, and based on his progression from his Oregon film until last week’s game against the Saints, he’s taking in what the Bills coaching staff is feeding him. And if he can continue to grow as a leader and linebacker, he’ll likely have more trophies in his future.

THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Jairus Byrd likely won’t be traded, could re-sign with the Bills

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network,  Bills safety Jairus Byrd likely won’t be traded and could even re-sign with Buffalo in the offseason. On #Bills S Jairus Byrd: Hard to imagine a trade. Bills are open to it, want a younger player. If no trade, could re-sign him in offseason — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 29, 2013 Byrd may not have a choice but to lower his...

Buffalo Bills sign Cordell Roberson to their practice squad

Cordell Roberson is a bigger wide receiver with strong hands. After being released by the Cleveland Browns earlier this preseason, the former Stephen F. Austin wide out had several workouts. Roberson tore it up in the preseason for the Browns scoring a touchdown and making several big plays. The Brown fan base where shocked he […]

Buffalo Bills Week 8 takeaways

The Buffalo front 7 is starting to become one of the best in the league To almost no one’s surprise, the Buffalo Bills tallied another loss to the New Orleans Saints Sunday. The final score was 35-17, but the game was a little closer than the score indicates. Here are a few takeaways from Sunday’s loss. Thad Lewis has been surprisingly competent over the past few weeks, but this...

Week 9 Fantasy Football Injury Report: CJ Spiller

Buffalo Bills RB C.J. Spiller missed Week 8 with a high ankle sprain and appears to be on a “wait-and-see” timeline as we move forward. Spiller has been dealing with this issue for weeks before the Bills’ coaching and training staff decided to shut him down for 1 week to see how he would respond. Injury Outlook: The fact that there is still this much uncertainty and speculation...

Buffalo Bills worked out four players today

Today the Buffalo Bills worked out four players, and signed one to the practice squad. The player signed was Cordell Roberson the prolific wide out from Stephen F. Austin. Roberson is a big receiver that has great hands. The three other players brought in for a work out where: Frank Kearse – DL – Alabama […]

Bills Could Be Forced To Start Jeff Tuel Or Matt Flynn In Week 9

Mike Rodak of ESPN.com reports that the Bills had Jeff Tuel and Matt Flynn splitting first-team reps during Wednesday’s practice. Thad Lewis was sat out of the team’s practice in order to recover from a few injuries that he is currently dealing with. On Sunday, Lewis suffered a rib injury that took him out of the game briefly. Bills’ HC Doug Marrone reportedly told his...

Regrouping Bills excited for unbeaten Chiefs test

Coming off a lopsided loss to New Orleans, coach Doug Marrone and the Buffalo Bills are fired up to kick off the second half of their season by hosting unbeaten Kansas City. ''I'm ready to go,'' said an animated Marrone during Monday's news conference. ''I don't want to miscommunicate that I'm disappointed in our record. I'm disappointed...

Bills Won’t Release Kolb, Injured QB Will Stay On IR

Bills QB Kevin Kolb won’t be coming off IR to play for Buffalo or anyone else this season, ProFootballTalk reported. With the injuries to Sam Bradford in St. Louis and Jay Cutler in Chicago, some wondered if Kolb could be released from IR and given the chance to sign with another team.  That won’t happen. Kolb was placed on IR at the end of August with a concussion.  He wasn’t...

C.J. Spiller Has a High Ankle Sprain

Bills running back C.J. Spiller has a high ankle sprain, coach Doug Marrone revealed on Monday. SOURCE: WGR550.comFantasy Spin:Marrone said he will wait to provide an update on Spiller's availability for Sunday's game against the Chiefs, but it doesn't look good at this point. Fred Jackson only had 45 yards on 15 carries Sunday against the Saints, making it four straight...

Manuel’s Return Could Be Imminent

There was a report on Sunday before the Buffalo Bills lost to the New Orleans Saints 35-17 that the Bills training staff was putting EJ Manuel through the paces testing out his injured knee. It was the first sign of the franchise quarterback working out since he suffered a grade five LCL sprain in week four against the Cleveland Browns. Since then the Bills have gone 1-2 and it appears...

Bills hire architect of new analytics department

The Buffalo Bills have taken the first step in building a much-anticipated branch of their organization. Wednesday, the team announced the hiring of Mike Lyons, a 25-year Xerox employee and MIT and University of Rochester Simon School of Business graduate, as their Director of Analytics. Lyons will be work alongside everyone from coach Doug Marrone to the highest members of the front...

Thad Lewis should be good to go on Sunday

Bills quarterback Thad Lewis missed Wednesday’s practice with injured ribs. Coach Doug Marrone said that Lewis is 50-50 to play. For now, take the over. Per a league source, Lewis is expected to play on Sunday, despite the missed practice. It remains to be seen whether he’ll practice on Thursday, or whether Jeff Tuel and Matt Flynn will again split reps. Even if, as we...

Stevie Johnson Expects To Play Sunday

Buffalo wideout Stevie Johnson (hip) didn't practice Wednesday but says he'll be ready for Sunday's game against the Chiefs, according to Mike Rodak of ESPN.com.Fantasy Spin:It seems Johnson is always dealing with some type of ailment but he usually suits up on Sunday. He's expected to practice on a limited basis Thursday, coach Doug Marrone said. Johnson has drawn...

Post Mortem: Buffalo Bills vs New Orleans Saints

That certainly was ugly. No one thought that the Buffalo Bills would head into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and beat the New Orleans Saints on their own field, but we were all hoping it wouldn’t be that ugly. It was close for a time, but at the end of the first half, the two teams may as well have just stayed in the locker room. The Bills had limited the Saints, who were mostly...

Stephon Gilmore felt like himself without club on hand

Stephon Gilmore didn't go clubbing this weekend, and it was everything he thought it would be.For the first time this season, the Buffalo Bills' No. 1 cornerback played without the club-like wrap that he was forced to wear the last couple weeks following wrist surgery.Instead, Gilmore sported a wrist guard in the Bills' loss to the New Orleans Saints Sunday, and it didn...
NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

OPTIMUM SCOUTING
RECENTLY ON OPTIMUM SCOUTING
2014 Supplemental Draft: No Prospects Drafted, All Four Now Become Free Agents
2014 Supplemental Draft: North Carolina’s Darius Lipford Leads Four Eligible Prospects
Bruce Feldman’s “Freak List”: Evaluating the Seniors For the 2015 NFL Draft
2015 NFL Draft: Ranking the Top 5 Prospects for Each Big Ten Team
2014 Fantasy Football Rankings: Breaking Down the Top 40 Rookies for 2014
2014 College Football Preview: Big Ten’s Top 10 Seniors for the 2015 NFL Draft
Duke’s Jamison Crowder May Not Have Ideal Size, But He May Be This Year’s Tavon Austin, Brandin Cooks
2014 NBA Draft: Scouting this Year’s Class…As Football Prospects
2014 College Football Previews: ACC’s Top 10 Seniors for the 2015 NFL Draft
2015 NFL Draft: Chuckie Keeton, Cody Fajardo and What the Two Best Seniors Need to Improve On in 2014
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.