NFL Draft 2015 grades: New Orleans Saints select Stephone Anthony

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports /

With the 31st-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints selected Clemson Tigers inside linebacker Stephone Anthony. Anthony will be an immediate replacement for the departed Curtis Lofton, who left New Orleans for the Oakland Raiders, via free agency.

Grade: B-

Anthony is a solid player, recording 9.5 sacks in his career. The Clemson star is going to be a contributor immediately for Rob Ryan’s defense, so that is certainly a positive. Anthony has good speed and decent enough size, but was not ranked by most as a top-three inside linebacker. A majority of draft experts had Eric Kendricks, Denzel Perryman and Benardrick McKinney rated higher, but the Saints clearly disagreed.

With the Saints having Drew Brees at the offensive controls, New Orleans is right to focus on defense after adding right tackle Andrus Peat with the 13th-overall pick. Sean Payton has to continuously upgrade the other side of the ball if the Saints want to make the playoffs again, something they failed to do after going 7-9 in the 2014 season.

Going into the second day, the Saints still must upgrade the defensive line and the secondary. The tight end spot is also an issue after trading Jimmy Graham to the Seattle Seahawks in March.