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Northern Michigan DE/LB Zach Anderson of Sault Ste. Marie picked up by Cleveland Browns
April 28, 2013 - Matt Wellens
MARQUETTE — Northern Michigan University senior defensive lineman Zach Anderson of Sault Ste. Marie will be attending the Cleveland Browns rookie camp after going undrafted in the 2013 NFL Draft.
At 6-foot-2, 270 pounds, Anderson will play either defensive end or outside linebacker in Cleveland after playing as a defensive tackle for the Wildcats as a senior.
“I’m versatile. I can adapt,” said Anderson, who also played on the Wildcats punt unit before suffering an ankle injury late in the season. “I’m very adaptive. I will play whatever position. I can do it all.”
The Browns were one of at least 10 NFL teams to have contacted Anderson leading up to the draft along with the New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings.
The Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys were also interested in Anderson following the draft.
Anderson said he spoke with Browns’ first-year general manager Michael Lombardi on Monday prior to the draft and again Saturday. While he wasn’t selected by Cleveland in the sixth or seventh round like he hoped, the Browns were on the phone with Anderson before the final pick was even handed in.
“Coming into it, all I wanted was an opportunity, just an invitation to camp,” Anderson said prior to the draft. “As long as I get an invitation to camp, I won’t be let down. Drafted or not drafted, it doesn’t matter to me.”
Coming out of Northern as an unknown, Anderson caught the Browns attention during an NFL-sponsored regional combine at the team’s training facility in Berea, Ohio on Feb. 17 that cost him $225.
It proved to be a wise investment.
The Wildcat ran a 4.6-second 40-yard dash and was kept after for linebacker drills by the Browns and Chicago Beats. Anderson was then invited to an NFL-sponsored super-regional at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas — this time on the NFL’s dime.
Anderson, who graduated in December with a degree in criminal justice after a four-year career at NMU, finished with 40 of his 71 tackles being solos and 10 resulting in negative yardage. He also had one sack and one interception to land on the All-GLIAC first team and NCAA Division II All-Super Region Four third team. He also appeared in the National Bowl on Dec. 9 in Lehigh Valley, Pa., finishing with three sacks as a defensive end.
Anderson graduated from Sault Area High School in 2008 after being named an All-Upper Peninsula Dream Team defensive end by the U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscaster Association during his senior year of 2007.
The Browns finished with only five picks after trading their fourth- and fifth-round picks in 2013 for third and fourth-round picks in 2014.
Cleveland took LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo in the first round with the sixth overall pick, followed by San Diego State cornerback Leon McFadden in the third round, Notre Dame strong safety Jamoris Slaughter in the sixth round and East Central (Okla.) defensive end Armonth Bryant and Chadron State (Neb.) offensive tackle Garrett Gilkey in the seventh round.
Cleveland is coming off a last-place finish in the AFC North Division after going 5-11 in 2012, resulting in the ousting of team president Mike Holmgren, general manager Tom Heckert and head coach Pat Shurmur.
Rob Chudzinski was hired as the new head coach on Jan. 10 while Lombardi joining the organization on Jan. 18.
According to NFL.com, the Browns entered the draft with a need for pass rushers, even after adding free agent outside linebackers Paul Kruger from the Baltimore Ravens and Quentin Groves from the Arizona Cardinals.
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Northern Michigan University senior defensive lineman Zach Anderson of Sault Ste. Marie will be attending the Cleveland Browns rookie camp after going undrafted in the 2013 NFL Draft. (NMU file photo)