On the official Bills website today, they take a look at the race to be the starter at ILB. As author Chris Brown mentioned, the Bills haven’t had a consistent starter at ILB since Paul Posluszny in 2010.
All indications are Kiko Alonso will start the season there after being drafted 46th overall. New coach Doug Marrone recently said, “he’s shown he has all the ability to play all three downs.” Alonso flashed that ability in his last year at Oregon when he was all over the field recording 87 total tackles, 16 tackles for a loss, four interceptions, seven passes defended, two forced fumbles and a sack.
New defensive coordinator Mike Pettine will play a big, if not the biggest, role in who the starting inside linebacker is. Whether it’s Alonso or other candidates Nigel Bradham, Arthur Moats or Bryan Scott, recent history indicates Pettine’s defenses haven’t had a consistent tackler at the position. In his four years as the New York Jets coordinator, inside linebacker David Harris had 127, 99, 86, 123 from 2009-2012. Harris is still an above average fantasy linebacker but more consistency from Pettine’s linebackers would be preferred.
Assuming Alonso starts the season as the starter, he should put up LB2/3 numbers right away as most inside linebackers do. Said Pettine, “he has come in and he is as close to NFL ready as I’ve seen a rookie linebacker step into this system.” Additionally, the Bills are in full-scale re-build mode under new general manager Doug Whaley, Marrone and raw rookie quarterback E.J. Manual. This should buy Alonso plenty of time to develop his game before the real pressure builds.
Long-term, the only potential hurdle is his few run-ins with the law. Currently, Alonso sits at 30 in our latest overall linebacker rankings. Assuming he can avoid those in the future, I’d have no problem taking Alonso as the second rookie linebacker in a dynasty draft.