Oregon linebacker Kiko Alonso finished up a visit with the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday, according to Joel Corry of the National Football Post. With less than 10 days until the start of the 2013 NFL Draft, Alonso has now met with 11 NFL teams, and has held a private workout with the Atlanta Falcons.
Alonso figures to be one of the first middle linebackers taken in the draft. He currently ranks as the sixth-best player at his position according to SB Nation, putting him in strong position for a second or third-round selection. As a senior, he had 81 tackles, 14 for loss, four interceptions and two forced fumbles.
Alonso's biggest asset may be his tenacity. He has earned praise for his explosive first step, which he uses to time blitzes effectively and take down ball carriers in the backfield. He is also an effective pass defender when he drops back into zone coverage.
Alonso may need to learn how to rein in his aggressiveness before he sees the field at the next level, given his propensity for taking himself out of position. That said, he was praised by SB Nation's Matthew Fairburn as one of the most underrated players at his position:
Kiko Alonso has some red flags. He has had injury issues, off-the-field trouble and doesn't always play with the best instincts. However, Alonso is an incredible athlete for an inside linebacker and has the strength to excel in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. He's versatile enough to play multiple linebacker spots and the upside is there for him to make an impact if given some time to develop.
The Saints ranked dead last in the NFL last season in total defense, giving up nearly 300 yards passing and 150 yards rushing per game during the regular season. Alonso may need time to develop, but he could be the perfect utility man for a defense that is currently starved for playmakers.