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Zaire Anderson saw a lot more playing time in 2017, but will it lead to more in 2018?

The Denver Broncos suddenly have a logjam at inside linebacker, which leaves some doubt as to where Zaire Anderson will end up on the depth chart.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos tend to find solid contributors in the many undrafted free agents they pick up and Zaire Anderson is no different. He spent his rookie year on the practice squad in 2015 before finding his way onto the 53-man roster in 2016 and 2017 as a backup on defense and a special teams contributor.

Name: Zaire Anderson
Position: Inside Linebacker
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 220
Age: 24
Experience: 3
College: Nebraska

Anderson was an exclusive-rights free agent this year and was re-signed by Denver for another season. He’ll enter 2019 as a restricted free agent, so he could end up with the team for the next two seasons.

The Good

As a major contributor on special teams, Anderson found a place on the team as a consistent contributor. He also saw significant playing time on defense in 2017 filling in for an injured Todd Davis in Weeks 6-9. He also played extensively in Week 17 where he took a fumble recovery to the house for a big time touchdown.

The Bad

Unfortunately, when he was on the field for the defense he didn’t play great. He wasn’t terrible either, so for a first time “starter” out there average is about what we could expect. According to Pro Football Focus, he was better as a run stopper with a 76.7 grade than he was in coverage (53.3) or getting after the quarterback (55.0). His overall grade of 66.7 was okay, but not quite starter material in the NFL.


With Corey Nelson leaving in free agency to the Philadelphia Eagles, Todd Davis was quick to note that Zaire is more than capable of filling the void left by Nelson’s departure.

“That is a void that I need to fill. I feel like Corey was a great player for us. I’m excited for him to get his opportunity here in Philly. I know he’s a great guy and a great player, so I’m excited that he’s getting this opportunity. But I think we have some young guys stepping up. I know that [ILB] Zaire [Anderson] is going to definitely do his job to try and fill that void this year. I think we’ll be good.”

2018 Status

Anderson should provide solid depth on defense and will continue to play a major role on special teams. However, the addition of Josey Jewell and Keishawn Bierria in the 2018 NFL Draft will cloud his long-term future in Denver.

Younger guys like them and Jerrol Garcia-Williams will put the pressure on Anderson to make the team this season. It is unlikely the Broncos keep six inside linebackers, so someone or two someones are going to be looking to get picked up by another NFL club later this summer.


Will Zaire Anderson make the Broncos roster in 2018?

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