Kiko Alonso is the newest member of a Buffalo Bills linebacking corps in need more athletic players.
With Kelvin Sheppard and Nigel Bradham, both young players with plenty to prove in the NFL, penciled in as the starters in the 3-4 alignment and the respective middle and strong-side 'backers in the 4-3, it came as no surprise defensive coordinator Mike Pettine wanted another versatile defender in his front seven.
That's precisely what Kiko Alonso is.
At 6'3'' and 240 pounds, he's a relatively fluid mover who violently defends against the run, frequently making his presence felt with pad-popping hits that are the result of his quick deciphering and explosive first step.
Alonso is an alert cover man who is fast and athletic enough to run with tight ends, and he really showcases his awareness and ball skills when sinking in to his zone.
With a diverse package of defensive sets likely to be implemented, Alonso should find himself on the field often on first, second and third downs in Buffalo.
Both Sheppard and Bradham struggled in coverage in 2012, so the former Oregon Duck may very well emerge as the team's most effective coverage linebacker.
(With the prevalence of spread sets in today's NFL, every team needs a sound coverage linebacker.)
In 3-4 sets, Alonso will give Pettine flexibility, as he's rugged enough to man the strong inside linebacker spot with block-eating responsibilities or the weak inside linebacker position who's typically given more freedom.
In 4-3 sets, Alonso projects to the traditional middle linebacker spot or the rangier weakside linebacker position.
Pettine has mentioned the nickel package will be Buffalo's base defense, and Alonso should eventually overtake Bryan Scott as the team's nickel 'backer.
The Bills have been disastrous against the run and torched by tight ends over the last few seasons, so an impactful linebacker with speed and power was desperately needed.
In all likelihood, Pettine will place Kiko Alonso all over the field.