In addition to signing cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke, the Vikings announced they have signed two other players. One is former Texas Tech defensive end Leon Mackey and the other is former Tennessee Titan, Indianapolis Colt and Morehouse college defensive tackle Chigbo Anunoby. What I can glean from them as we head into the offseason and build a 90-man roster below.
It’s hard to find scouting reports on undrafted free agents from a few years ago, but it seems like Anunoby was a favorite among draftniks. Among them are this one archived originally from fanaticalfootballfiend.com (a website since retired), but it looks like the report was grabbed off of a HBCU Bowl scouting report at National Football Post. Either way, here it is:
Morehouse DL Chigbo Anunoby had a very impressive performance Wednesday afternoon. The 6-4, 324-pound lineman was an absolute bear to move inside vs. the run. He fired off the football low, showcased natural anchor strength and the type of power/balance to extend his arms and fend off blocks inside. However, even more impressive was his overall ball awareness. The guy consistently was flowing toward the action and really did a nice job locating the ball quickly. As a pass rusher he also displayed a little more short-area quickness than you would expect for a guy his size, doing a nice job a couple times working an arm over and side stepping a block off the ball, while also pushing the pocket as a bull rusher.Now, he’s never going to be a “plus” pass rusher in the NFL. However, he’s a strong, long kid with a really well-proportioned frame who can anchor inside and certainly has the talent to get plenty of looks from both 34 and 43 teamsas a developmental big body.”
NFP liked him throughout practices. Above is the Day 3 report. This is from the weigh-in:
At 6-4 and 324 pounds, DT Chigbo Anunoby (Morehouse St.) had a massive frame and really carried his weight well. He didn’t seem soft or flabby through the mid-section and his lower half was wide, well-built and really powerful looking. Had an NFL-type frame.
They thought Anunoby was a combine snub, which fits because it is difficult to find combine or pro day scores for him. Among the reports I sifted through, there are a few mentions of long arms (frequently said to be quite long at 34 1/4 inches). Regardless, the numbers I could find were good for his size. The two small school experts I talked to familiar with Anunoby both regarded him as an excellent prospect and both emphasized his size. He knows how big he is and uses it well.
Pro Football Weekly had a bit on him, which you can find if you snoop around web archives:
The Missouri prep also participated in track. Played the 2006 and ’07 seasons as a defensive lineman for Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo. Did not participate in football in either ’08 or ’09 while attending Lincoln. Returned to football in ’10 at Morehouse and played in all 11 games at nose guard, logging 44 tackles, five tackles for loss and one sack with one batted pass and three forced fumbles. Led the team in tackles for loss from his nose guard position in ’11 with 49-14-3 1⁄2 and had three forced fumbles and a blocked kick in 10 games.
Outstanding size, body thickness, mass and arm length. Good core strength. Can stack the point, hold the double-team and occupy space. Flashes power in his hands to jolt blockers. Good production.
Heavy-footed with limited playing range. Has no twitch or lower-body explosion. Faced weak competition and did not regularly dominate.
Massive-bodied space eater who showed he could clog the middle in the HBCU All-Star Bowl, tossing around smaller blockers with ease, and could warrant a chance in an odd front based on his sheer size.
In addition, the personnel director of the HBCU Bowl raved about him, though bowl personnel directors do that with anyone who agrees to come to their bowl:
Chigbo Anunoby is the number one rated DT on my Black College Football NFL Draft Defensive Board. He was a terror on the defensive line during his career at Morehouse splitting time between DT and DE. Anunoby has an impressive NFL frame at 6-4 328 lbs and is well-built for the position. He’s explosive off the ball and stays low out of his stance. Shows good strength at the power of attack and the balance to extend his arms to fend off blocks inside. He impressed NFL scouts during the HBCU Bowl week with his instincts and good awareness as he consistently flowed toward the action and really did a nice job locating the ball quickly. Anunoby is a marginal pass rusher but displays enough short area quickness for a guy his size. He also did a decent job of pushing the pocket as a bull rusher. Anunoby needs to play with better balance and must develop more moves with his hands to keep blockers off of him. Scouts also have some concerns regarding the DII competition he faced in college and if it will hinder him being able to elevate his game to the next level. Overall Anunoby is a strong long arm player with a really well proportioned frame who can anchor inside and has been getting plenty of looks from both 34 and 43 teams as a developmental big body. He could develop into a zero-technique/nose tackle prospect at the next level as he physically matures with adding bulk to his frame. Anunboy has grab enough attention from teams during the NFL Draft process to warrant a draft pick in the later rounds.
Further, he’s said to be known for his work ethic and coachability, and wasn’t tagged with any red flags before the draft. In the Vikings’ official release, they had this to say:
Chigbo Anunoby (chi-BOO an-uh-NO-bee) joins the Vikings as a reserve/future free agent signing. Anunoby, who entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with Indianapolis in 2012, spent the entire 2014 season on Tennessee’s practice squad. In 2013, Anunoby went through training camp and the preseason with Washington before being released during final roster cuts. He played collegiately at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga. in 2010 and 2011 where he recorded 93 tackles, 19.0 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries.
Gotta love that forced fumble stat. As a 3-4 end, Anunoby recorded a +2.0 PFF grade in the 2013 preseason and in the final game recorded five tackles for four stops (behind or close to the line of scrimmage). In 2014, he w as a 3-4 NT and recorded a +2.4 grade in the preseason. He didn’t see the regular season in either of those years.
As for Mackey, there’s even less on him. He’s not the athletic package that some of the more interesting Vikings signings have been, but does have one interesting note about him: he played for Arena Bowl champions Arizona Rattlers. He was an All-Big 12 honorable mention in his second (of two) years at Texas Tech, having previously played at Hinds Community College.
I was able to talk to someone within the personnel department of the Arizona Rattlers, who had glowing reviews.
“[I’m] excited for him to get a chance,” he told me. “[Mackey] was one of our most crucial guys down the stretch, learned a lot from our vets and got sacks in playoff games including the ArenaBowl.”
“[Mackey has] good speed and long arms at his size; his biggest strength is his swim move. Bends edge and stops to move back inside. Would make a move at least once per practice that made the other players ‘Ooh’,” he said. “As clean of character as you can imagine: took in all coaching he got and personally thanked interns.”
As for his technical ability, this person told me that he still has a lot to learn, but takes on coaching well. In particular, mental mistakes seem to be something he’s prone to and he needed to work on making sure he didn’t shoot offsides both in practices and pre-game warmups. When he does learn something, he uses it and absorbs it as part of his reportoire, but with a long way to go, that doesn’t mean he’ll see the field this year for any team by any stretch.
His agency has put together an All-22 highlight film of sorts from the quarterfinal of the Arena Bowl playoffs from this year.
His previous agency did the same:
Leon Mackey had an odd college path, and fairly circuitous. Mackey was a Virginia Tech commit after receiving offers from 40 schools as a standout defensive end for Christinia High School in Delaware. In order to improve his academic standing, he played at Hargrave Military Academy (of the famed Hargrave Four) with Arizona Cardinals tackle Bobby Massie. He didn’t earn eligibility in the first year but maintained his commitment through his second year there before opening up to other schools.
The SEC sniped him and he committed to South Carolina as a four-star Juco recruit before the NCAA Clearinghouse ruled him ineligible to play—online courses he took at Brigham Young University evidently were not accepted by the clearinghouse. According to GamecockAnthem:
Mackey left Hargrave after the fall semester of his second year there with the intent of taking online classes to complete the remaining classes he needed for college entrance requirements. Sources tell GamecockAnthem that while the BYU online school is not one of the schools officially flagged by the NCAA, classes taken there by athletes struggling to make it into college were looked at closely this year.
Athletes like Mackey that took BYU courses were being required to provide the NCAA with their class “Work product” – documentation of all the work they did related to the classes taken, not just the grades showing they had passed the proctored tests. This is a much higher standard than is normally required in similar situations. Mackey’s transcripts included grades from his original high school, two sets of Hargrave transcripts – pre and post high school graduate coursework done there, as well as the online course work he took from BYU.
According to what we’ve been told, Mackey’s choices now are either to return to prep school, or attend a junior college.
After that, he enrolled at Hinds Community College and dominated his “freshman” season, with 10.5 sacks. It earned him a lot of attention and he was recruited by SEC schools once again, but was leaning towards Texas Tech until his recruiter left. The likely reason that Texas Tech was able to win him back was former head coach at Hargrave Military Academy, Robert Prunty, joining the Texas Tech Red Raiders in 2010.
He didn’t replicate his Juco success at the FBS level, finishing his two years with the Red Raiders with no sacks (but four tackles for loss) but still earning an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention despite not starting. He was a tryout player for the Miami Dolphins but didn’t supplant any of the undrafted free agents on the roster to make the 90-man squad set for training camp, and joined the Arena Football League with the Arizona Rattlers.
He didn’t play in any Rattler’s games until the final week of the regular season, where he recorded half a sack. In the playoffs, he recorded three more sacks, including two in the championship game against the Cleveland Gladiators. This along, with a history that may be misleading with regards to his actual talent, is probably related to why the Vikings chose to sign him.
Last year, I was critical of how the Vikings chose to fill out their 90-man roster, going so far as to criticize signings that were (in my eyes) obviously camp bodies because I thought the Vikings could do better. In this case, I think the Vikings are taking definitively interesting and potentially unique approaches that do a lot to help the competition, even at the bottom of the roster.