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Broncos roster 2016: Linebacker Zaire Anderson

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Breaking down the Denver Broncos 2016 90-man roster, one player, one post, one day at a time. Today we keep the football rolling looking at linebacker Zaire Anderson.

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It's that time of the year again. Mile High Report begins our annual 90 players in 90 days roster breakdown. Last year went fairly well, but starting today and through August 27th, we'll break down every player on the Denver Broncos roster.

Name: Zaire Anderson
Position: Linebacker
Height: 5'11"   Weight: 220
Age: 23   Experience: 1st
College: Nebraska

Linebacker Zaire Anderson joined the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent hours after the 2015 NFL Draft concluded.

Anderson played college football at the Nebraska where he played three years of college football for the Cornhuskers.

While at Nebraska, Anderson put up some solid numbers for the Cornhuskers. During his three-year career at Nebraska, he totaled 159 tackles, 16 tackles for a loss, 5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. His best season came in 2014 when he totaled 103 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss, 2 sacks, 5 pass deflections, and 3 forced fumbles.

Anderson was an unknown at this point last season but quickly made a name for himself during Training Camp. Denver Broncos Head Coach Gary Kubiak said Anderson has "flashed every day" during Training Camp and called Anderson a leader.

"Yeah, I can tell you've been watching because you're right, he has flashed. He flashes every day. He's small. You watch him stature-wise work out and you say, 'Can you play in there?' But there have been some great guys do that. I can think of Zach Thomas for many, many years standing across from that center. He's a leader. He handles the huddle really well. He loves contact. Reggie's done a good job with him, but you have to give the kid a lot of credit. He's come a long way."

Anderson continued to flash during the Preseason as well. He totaled 10 tackles in limited action last summer.

Unfortunately, a strong showing during the summer wasn't enough for Anderson to crack the final 53 man roster. Thankfully for the Broncos, Anderson passed through waivers and landed on the Denver Broncos 10-man Practice Squad and stayed there throughout the 2015 season.

Now heading into 2016, Anderson has a golden opportunity to push for a roster spot and a role on the Broncos defense and special teams.

Starting Inside linebacker Danny Trevathan signed with the Chicago Bears during Free Agency leaving a void next to starter Brandon Marshall. Many thought the Broncos would address this position in the offseason but they did not. So that means they're comfortable with Todd Davis, Corey Nelson, and Zaire Anderson and all three will be given an opportunity to replace Trevathan in the lineup.

The good:

Anderson is an aggressive linebacker who has a nose for the ball. He showed this at Nebraska, during the Broncos Training Camp, and during the Preseason. I believe given an opportunity with the starting defense that he will continue to show a nose for the ball and be a tackling machine.

I'm not sure he has the size to be a three-down starter in this league, but with teams playing more sub-packages, undersized linebackers like Anderson have been getting more playing time.

This is an area where I can see Anderson playing for the Broncos. He has the size of a safety and could basically be used in a similar role in certain packages. He can cover running backs and tight ends and just be able to make plays in open space. I think Anderson could rack up tackles in this role and be a valuable asset to the Broncos defense.

One area where Anderson will likely play a major role is special teams. He'll likely see time on every unit, and I believe he could be a solid gunner. With his nose for the ball, there's an opportunity for him to make a big hit and possibly cause a turnover. He'll need to flash here to increase his chances of making the roster.

The bad:

His size is my biggest concern. At 5'11", 220lbs he lacks the ideal size needed to be a three-down linebacker in the NFL. It's unclear if he added any weight since last season, but right now he is still listed at 220lbs.

His size will limit him to sub-package work and special teams work, so he will need to excel in these roles if he wants a long NFL career.

While I think he can push for a starting role, I believe Todd Davis and Corey Nelson are currently ahead of him in the pecking order at Inside Linebacker. I wouldn't rule of undrafted rookie Frank Shannon pushing Anderson for a roster spot as well.

I also thought Anderson could play some strong safety, but the Broncos drafted safety Will Parks in the draft and he will likely be the Broncos backup strong safety. So this leaves Anderson fighting for a roster spot/starting job at Inside Linebacker.

Roster status:

I think Anderson has a good shot at making the Broncos roster since they added very little competition to the mix.

While I think he can push for a starting gig, I think Todd Davis is likely to get that job. Now Davis really isn't a cover linebacker, so I could see Anderson pushing Corey Nelson for a potential sub-package role. Anderson will have to have another strong summer to win this role, though.

At worse, I see Anderson making the team as a depth player and having a role on special teams and probably be on or off the inactive list throughout the season.