Name: Zaire Anderson
Height: 5'11" Weight: 220
Age: 24 Experience: 2nd
Next up in our Denver Broncos Roster Breakdown is inside linebacker Zaire Anderson. Anderson joined Denver as an undrafted free agent out of Nebraska in 2015. He spent the entire 2015 season on the practice squad and fought his way onto the 53-man roster in 2016 after Danny Trevathan departed.
Anderson’s role in 2016 was mainly on special teams, as he only logged 5% of the available defensive snaps at linebacker while chipping in 55% of the total snaps on special teams.
Since he came in as an undrafted free agent, his contract is very reasonable as an ERFA this year. He will also be an ERFA next year, then a RFA in 2019; due to his red shirt year on the practice squad.
Anderson flashed in camp and preseason last year, impressing the coaches and earning him a spot on the final roster. In terms of trajectory, he is on the right path coming from practice squad, to special teams roster contributor, to hopefully a larger role this year. I like his aggressiveness and attacking nature in the running game on the few snaps he saw, he made some solid plays in run support.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but he just hasn’t played that much at linebacker to fully know what he brings to the table. I haven’t seen a lot from him in the passing game and Corey Nelson usually took the nickel LB snaps, so I’d like to see what Anderson can do in this area of his game as that will be a big key to him taking snaps from Todd Davis, in my opinion.
When asked last off season about Anderson, Kubiak had some high praise:
"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."
CJ Anderson also mentioned Zaire specifically last season during an interview as a guy who could potentially breakout.
Due to his special teams contributions, inexpensive contract, and the fact that he continues to show growth, I think his roster spot is safe. However, it remains to be seen the kind of impact he can have on the field at ILB. I would love to see him step up and make the coaches give him more snaps this year.