3. A.J. Klein, linebacker, New Orleans Saints
Klein didn’t get a whole lot of coverage in Carolina with the likes of Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis playing linebacker for that squad. But make no mistake about it, he’s as solid a middle linebacker as New Orleans could have hoped for in free agency.
A former fifth-round pick out of Iowa State, Klein started seven games for the injury Kuechly this past season. He responded by putting up 29 tackles and two forced fumbles in a solid all-around effort. This led to the four-year pro receiving a much-deserved four-year, $24 million deal from the Saints in free agency.
He immediately becomes the team’s starting middle linebacker and should work well next to 2016 first-round pick Stephone Anthony, who will man the strong-side position in the Bayou. This signing also enables surprise performer Craig Robertson to move from the inside spot to weak-side linebacker. That’s the trickle-down effect of New Orleans targeting a position of need and coming away with a solid performer.