New Orleans Saints have winning combination at linebacker

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 14: Manti Te'o
SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 14: Manti Te'o /

The New Orleans Saints have been looking for a solid combination of linebackers for a couple of years now. The recent candidates were backers like James Laurinaitis, Stephone
Anthony and Craig Robertson, just to name a few. 

The New Orleans Saints have some new candidates to fill the linebacking void in 2017 in A.J. Klein and Manti Te’o.

Klein was signed during the first day of free agency from the Carolina Panthers along with Carolina teammate, wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. The deal Klein received according to Spotrac was four years at $24 million.

The former fifth-round pick out of Iowa State has produced 146 tackles, four sacks and five forced fumbles in 60 games, mostly as a reserve to superstar linebacker Luke Kuechly.

Klein has the ability to play multiple positions at linebacker, which increases his ability to start. The impending release of Dannell Ellerbe has formed a hole in the Saints’ starting lineup which Klein is working at the strong side spot.

Stephone Anthony was an former first-round pick by the Saints out of Clemson in 2015 who broke Rickey Jackson‘s rookie tackle record.

Anthony, who is the typical size you would want at inside-backer at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, fell into Sean Payton‘s doghouse in his sophomore season, but has caught the eye of new linebackers coach Mike Nolan.

He is lining up at the weak-side spot formerly held by Ellerbe.

Manti Te’o was signed by New Orleans later in free agency at a cheap prove-it deal at two years and $5 million.

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Te’o, who was a celebrated star inside linebacker at Notre Dame and was selected 38th in second round of the 2013 draft, faced challenges due to the infamous catfishing scandal and more because of his speed. Nevertheless, scouts couldn’t discount his intelligence or his motor.

Injuries are what ultimately held Te’o’s game back, as witnessed in four years with the San Diego Chargers, where he posted 160 tackles,1.5 sacks and one interception in 38 games.

Flash forward to 2017 and Manti Te’o is healthy and is starting at inside linebacker for the New Orleans Saints.

Of course, Nolan coached Te’o in San Diego and had some influence on him signing here. We’d be naive to believe that Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen isn’t incorporating some of Nolan’s defensive principles .

With that said, Manti Te’o would be the ideal fit at middle linebacker because of his familiarity and intelligence at the position.

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I absolutely love this combination of linebacker in the starting 4-3 base defense and I love the fact when they played nickel, Klein played the mike, with Anthony at will. I’m very intrigued what this lineup can do barring injury, stay tuned.