From now until the 2023 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections, and priority undrafted free agents. Today I’ll be profiling Alabama EDGE Will Anderson Jr.
#31 WILL ANDERSON, EDGE, ALABAMA (SR.) 6040,243 LBS.
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|40 Yard Dash||10 Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Downhill, aggressive player with mean streak
— Productive college career at one of the most prestigious schools in the nation
— Good edge size at 6’4 243
— Good football IQ with also impressive awareness
— Disruptive even on plays without a recorded stat
— Deceptive strength at only 243 pounds
— Athletic enough and experienced enough to play up and down the line
— High effort clean up tackles
— High pedigree being so successful playing at the University of Alabama
— Good long arm rush and strength
— Level of gap discipline is outstanding as he plugs gaps
— Core strength as he bends the edge
— Doesn’t get lost in the crowd when mirroring backs and tight ends
— Not a ton of pass rush moves in his bag
— Occasionally let’s off the gas and gets lazy
— Not great in zone drops
— Struggles more against bigger tackles on the edge
— Needs to be more decisive when making a move
— 2020 Shaun Alexander-FWAA freshman of the year
— FWAA freshman All-American
— Associated Press SEC All Freshman Team. Second team All SEC in 2020
— Finished third in SEC in sacks with seven and tackles for loss at 10.5
— Started every game as a freshman
— 2021 Bronko Nagurski trophy winner, Unanimous first team AP All-American
— 2021: First Team All-SEC, SEC Defensive Player of the Year by Associated Press & coaches poll
— Led nation in tackles for loss with 34.5, had 17.5 sacks
— 2022 Nagurski trophy winner
— Second on Alabama’s career sacks list with 34.5
— Bednarik award winner
— Rotary Lombardy trophy winner
— Lott IMPACT trophy winner
— Joined Manti Te’o as the only two players to sweep all four awards
— Four star prospect out of Georgia by 247Sports, & ESPN
Anderson has a flat-out incredible mixture of speed, strength, and athleticism. He is an absolute game-wrecker when it comes down to playing defense. He wracks up sacks and puts them out in a hurry. He is Anderson has great technique, his football IQ is top-tier. Whether you’re watching him speak or watching him handle himself otherwise, Will Anderson is a fantastic player with more ability than probably anyone in the class. He’s going to produce splash every week and put up the stats that put guys in the Hall of Fame. His ability to take on blocks vertically and shedding blocks of all five of the offensive linemen across from him. He can beat squatty interior guys to the long, leaner tackles of the world. He covers a lot of ground when chasing down ball carriers and quarterbacks. He played at the highest level of football at the collegiate level and not only that but played it better than anybody else in college football. He lines up on the edge on either side and he can also play hand down, down inside the tackles.
Given his lighter frame, you’d expect that he’d be moved more easily, but at 243 he plays down inside better than a lot of already interior defensive lineman. He’s super impressive all around and I don’t know that there are many already NFL tackles that aren’t going to struggle against him even initially.
Great rep here by Anderson just being able to take an SEC tackle and just shake him down. He has deceptively good strength to be playing the run, and good on him for not giving up any ground. He makes the back have to run into contact immediately.
Here he shows good footwork on the stunt that allows him to get the sack. His sight hesitation times everything just right to he runs through the gap untouched to sack the quarterback. This is great attention to the small details that accumulate to greatly run plays. He has a nose for anyone with the ball, particularly the quarterback.
Great jump off the ball here by Anderson. His get-off allows him to beat the tackle vertically. He initially uses the bull rush, then finishes with the club to beat his man and chase down the sack.
Play recognition is key on this rep. As he sees the tight end flow across the formation, followed by the play action, he barely head nods before B lining for the passer. The reason offenses throw these things at you is to create mismatches, and confusion on the defensive end. Cerebral players like Anderson are worth betting the house on. Period.
Any major media outlet is going to have Anderson labeled solely as a pass rusher, but I can assure you the tape shows a guy who plays all aspects of defense and does them very well. Even against the heavier set tackles able to anchor down and not give up the edge, and to quickly shake the block to make the tackle relatively close to the line of scrimmage.
On the flip side of Will Anderson, you do see a tad too much of the missed dive tackling. I know Stetson Bennett is a really small dude who’s probably relatively fast, but this is a play you have to make or at least disrupt in order to have any sort of success as a defense on this play.
To conclude my analysis on Will Anderson Jr. I must say if there’s such thing as a franchise saving pick, this is the closest thing to it in this draft class. He’s a team player that’s well respected by possibly the greatest college football coach in the history of the game, along with all of his former teammates. He’s a dude that’s going to impact his team and the game immediately, as soon as he straps up and makes his debut. He’s a relentless pass rusher, who played really well horizontally, as well as moving north and south. He’s deceptively strong for under 250 pounds, but he handles blocks well, he creates havoc when playing down inside, etc. Even if he doesn’t stat a tackle for loss, he’s going to sit down in the gap and not be moved vertically.
He does drop into zone coverage also. He isn’t the best in defending a zone, and doesn’t have the elite ball skills to consistently make plays on the football in the air, but does have the capability to learn to play better defense in zone. His capabilities demand more attention from the offense and the blocking scheme which is a whole neither entity of the football game. He brings intangibles that you don’t find in every player of every draft. Anderson has very similar qualities and play to a Von Miller. Both physically and on the tape. Miller is a little more finesse, while Anderson is more power.
If you pay enough attention to this team you know that edge is high on may yinzers wishlist, but I can assure you, unless a trade-up were to happen which is highly unlikely, there’s no shot Anderson ends up in Pittsburgh.
Projection: Top Three Pick
Depot Draft Grade: 9.7 – Perennial All-Pro Talent (Top 3 pick)
Games Watched: Vs. Arkansas (2022) Vs. LSU (2022) Vs. Ole Miss (2022) Vs. Texas (2022)