The Buffalo Bills took Kiko Alonso in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He took second-team reps in his first minicamp practice, and hasn't seen the bench since. Against the Indianapolis Colts, Alonso didn't come off the field with the first team. I charted all his snaps in the first quarter and came away impressed.
Alonso lined up four to five yards off the ball on all but one of his 20 snaps. Prior to many of the plays, Alonso was putting fellow linebacker Nigel Bradham in a more advantageous position and called the defense for coordinator Mike Pettine who was calling plays from the sideline.
The rookie from Oregon made an impact from his first series. He was responsible for the running back in coverage on the first play, then had a delayed blitz when the back stayed in to block. He was swallowed up by a well-blocked Marcell Dareus on the second play, preventing him from filling the gap and making the play. A quicker lateral move could have blown up the play in the hole. He made his first tackle (for a loss) on the ensuing first down run on a nice fill. After playing the short zone on a second down completion away from his area, he crashed in on a delayed blitz to get to Andrew Luck and force an incompletion to end the drive. He was fast and got through the traffic quickly on the blitz.
His second series wasn't as impressive as the first. He bit on a play-action fake on the first play but recovered well to get back near the play by the end. He dropped into coverage on the play where Mario Williams recorded his sack before over-rushing on the next play and missing the draw. The running back turned the corner on him to gain a fair amount of yardage. He finished the drive with two drops into coverage.
On the third Colts possession, Alonso again dropped into coverage on first down and was blocked on a short second down run. On third down he was assigned to cover the pass-blocking running back, and his delayed blitz didn't have the time to get there. He showed good lateral movement on the ensuing first down on a run to the opposite side before the signature moment of his NFL debut.
On second and nine from the 11-yard line, Alonso drew solo coverage on second-year tight end Coby Fleener. Fleener ran past Alonso up the seam and there was no help over the top. Alonso turned his hips well and ran with Fleener into the end zone, where Matt Hasselbeck placed the ball over the top into Fleener's hands. Alonso stuck his hand between Fleener's and punched the ball out, preventing the touchdown. The Colts settled for a field goal.
The final drive of the first quarter saw him drop into coverage again and show good good closing speed on the first play. He was in position to clean up the tackle had it not been made by Manny Lawson. He had perhaps his worst play on second down, when he bit on a play action fake and let his man get past him. He tracked him down, but not until 22 yards were gained. He was blocked on the first down run and dropped into short zone on T.Y. Hilton's long touchdown grab.
All in all, Alonso was very good in pass coverage. He stuck to Fleener on several occasions, including the huge touchdown breakup. He was beat on the one play-action pass, though. He showed good speed in closing on making the tackle and rushing the quarterback.
The biggest area Alonso needs to work on is shedding blocks and getting through the garbage to the ball carrier. He was swallowed up on several running plays, and needs to avoid the scrum if the tackles get double-teamed back into him. If Dareus is going to take on two guys, Alonso should be free to fill the hole but that wasn't the case in the first quarter on Sunday.