The Miami Dolphins completed a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles to bring in linebacker Kiko Alonso and cornerback Byron Maxwell prior to the 2016 NFL Draft. Alonso is expected to be the Dolphins starter at middle linebacker in 2016.
Linebacker: Kiko Alonso
Alonso was drafted in 2013 originally by the Buffalo Bills in the second round out of Oregon University. He had a sensational season as a rookie, recording 159 tackles, 2 sacks, and 4 interceptions. Those numbers were good enough to earn him the PFWA Defensive Rookie of the Year award for 2013. Since then, however, Alonso has battled injuries and has struggled to get back to the player he was in 2013. The Dolphins along with friends and family of Alonso believe he is ready to be that player once again.
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Kiko Alonso spent the 2014 season on the shelf with a torn ACL that kept him out the entire year. Alonso spent the 2015 season in Philadelphia after the Bills traded him for the rights to LeSean McCoy. The trade reunited Alonso with his college coach, Chip Kelly. In week 1, Alonso looked pretty good with 6 tackles, an interception, and a pass deflection in a loss against the Falcons. However, in week 2 Alonso suffered a Grade II sprain to his recently repaired torn ACL. The injury caused Alonso to miss the Eagles’ next five games.
Alonso returned to action in November but he struggled for the most part, recording no more than five tackles from weeks 9-15. Good news for Dolphins fans is that Alonso finished the season with 8 and 9 tackles, respectively, possibly a sign for the future that he’s ready to return to his old self. After the Eagles fired Chip Kelly before the end of the season, Eagles management felt it was best to reload and rid of Kelly’s players as well. The Dolphins were happy to collect as the trade only cost them to drop five spots in the draft.
43 tackles, 1 interception, 1 pass deflected
Buffalo Bills – 2013-2014
Philadelphia Eagles – 2015
Alonso will look to jump start his career in Miami as the starting middle linebacker for the Dolphins alongside Jelani Jenkins and Koa Misi. He could play on the weak-side as well if needed. It’s not expected that anyone will challenge Alonso for the starting gig with second-year players Zach Vigil and Mike Hull behind him on the depth chart.
Since his rookie year, Alonso has fought hard to get past his injuries and be that player that exploded on the scene in Buffalo. Alonso says he feels great and believes his knee issues are finally behind him. Friends and family expressed that same belief when the Dolphins acquired Alonso in early March. Alonso backed up that statement during Miami’s voluntary minicamp. The Dolphins were pleasantly surprised with Alonso’s agility and speed during the 3-day camp.
New defensive coordinator Vance Joseph will run a 4-3 defensive scheme, which Alonso is more accustomed to. Alonso has played in both schemes during his career but the switch to 4-3 should allow him to be more of the ball hawk that he was in Buffalo. The Dolphins trade with the Eagles already looks to be a good one. If Alonso can be the player he once was in Buffalo, the trade could go down as one of the best in team history.