82nd Overall Selection - Third round
Linebacker Alfred Fincher, Connecticut
Prototypical run-stuffing linebacker from a small school, Saints took Fincher a little higher than he was projected but he fills a void for the Saints. Tough as nails, a violent hitter, and a determined run stopper. May project better to strong-side linebacker than middle linebacker, but will be a special teamer at first anyway. Adequate in zone coverage and pursuit but best in the tackle box playing in the gaps. Much more quick than fast and an overachieving hard worker. Very intelligent on and off the field. Experienced three year starter at small-time Connecticut. Great lateral ability and hand usage but limited in run-down speed. Surprisingly long stride and ranges around the field deceptively well.
However, Fincher may not be a three-down linebacker. Long arms, big hands, 400-pound bench press. A 32-inch vertical leap means this guy isn't stiff. Seems more able than Orlando Ruff but similar in that his strength is clearly against the run and he may be a liability in other aspects of his game. Was the quarterback for his defense and teamed with QB Dan Orlovsky to put the Connecticut football program on the map. Fincher is the first Connecticut player drafted since 1994.
Saints Impact: You didn't think the Saints could go without taking a linebacker in round three, did you? In every draft that the Saints have used a 3rd round pick (they didn't have 3rd round picks in 2000 and 2004), they have taken a linebacker. Fincher seems like a middle linebacker prospect but may be moved to strong-side.
"He's played inside, but he could be an outside linebacker. I would probably try him there, but it's up to Coach Haslett where he wants to play him," said Saints college scouting director Rick Reiprish.
From Next Level's John Murphy: "[Fincher] weighed in at 6010, 237 pounds… pretty well-defined in most areas… little shorter arms than desired… shows very good instincts and aggressiveness… quick to read the play and locate the ball… explosive upon impact… got up the field in a hurry during the team drills… pretty fluid in most of the individual sessions, as well… good range in pass coverage… has enough speed to drop back into his zone… takes good angles to the ball… plays faster than his reported 40-times… his football smarts and intangibles make him a better football player than workout guy… but has reportedly improved his overall speed and quickness, while training for the Combine… underrated in terms of not being hyped or promoted, as a possible top-notch defender before the start of this season… has lined up primarily at middle linebacker… has made a number of teams take notice of his ability… does not have great size, but could probably carry 245 pounds… very consistent on his game films, and did not look lost or out of place against top-notch competition this week…" "There is at least one team that has CONNECTICUT senior linebacker ALFRED FINCHER rated among the Top-3 inside linebackers in the draft..."
Other options: Virginia LB Darryl Blackstock, Purdue QB Kyle Orton, Georgia QB David Greene, West Virginia WR Chris Henry, Missouri DT CJ Mosley, Southern Miss OLB Michael Boley, Missouri DT Attiyah Ellison, West Virginia RB Kay-Jay Harris, Maryland CB Domonique Foxworth.