One of the positions that we already went over a couple of weeks back was the pass rusher. More specifically, the Arizona Cardinals currently have a need at outside linebacker and will be looking to help fill that void either through free agency or the NFL Draft.
A player that I failed to bring up last time is Mark Anderson. Anderson last played for the New England Patriots, where he was versatile in their defensive as both a defensive end and as a linebacker. He is now an unrestricted free agent and could be looking to take his talents elsewhere. So I will ask you: should the Cardinals target Mark Anderson?
Coming out of Alabama in 2006, Anderson was taken by the Chicago Bears and has pretty much played in a 4-3 scheme throughout his career. However, he has also seen some short stints as a linebacker and shown that he can be productive both as a pass rusher and in space.
Last season, Anderson played a total of 640 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. He rushed the opposing quarterback 419 times and in that span, he registered 15 sacks, 6 QB hits and 36 pressures. So there is no doubt that he has the ability to impact the game on passing plays.
What PFF notes is that Anderson is also a contributor against the run and as a coverage linebacker on passing plays. He scored a +3.3 grade against the run and a narrowly positive grade of 0.5 in coverage. The coverage statistics do not concern me much, as the Cardinals tend to blitz their outside linebackers around 75% of the time.
It is somewhat surprising to me that no team has signed Anderson as of yet. He will be turning 29 years old before the new season begins and has shown the ability to be an effective player. Pro Football Talk even listed him as the 20th best free agent on their "Hot 100" list.
The main questions the Cardinals would ask are: can he convert to a 3-4 linebacker and how much will he cost? His size seems to indicate that he could possess the speed necessary to play across from sophomore Sam Acho. Anderson is 6'4" and weighs approximately 255 pounds, so he is the same size as most 3-4 linebackers.
How much the Cards would have to spend to get him is unknown. But if the cost is somewhat reasonable, I say that they should make a run at him. It appears that Kamerion Wimbley is off to Tennessee, so outside of the draft, Anderson is the best option. He will need time to make the transition to the 3-4 scheme, but at least there will be a training camp this year, right?
What are your thoughts on Mark Anderson? Should the Cardinals attempt to reel him in? Everyone seemed to be rather lukewarm on the past outside linebacker options, so how are you feeling about Anderson? Tell us in the comments below and vote in the poll.
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