Edge rushers have long dominated the NFL Draft, and despite the quarterback class at hand, Will Anderson Jr. may be next in line.
Alabama has become an NFL assembly line ever since Nick Saban arrived. While he has shown he can produce offensive talent, the defense has been his niche. He has produced top-end linebackers and defensive backs but never an edge rusher; that is changing. Anderson proved this past year that he is special and worthy of this type of hype. While he may not ultimately be the top pick in the NFL Draft, he may be in your IDP rookie draft.
Will Anderson Jr. Claims the Edge Throne
The top-ranked edge prospect in the loaded 2020 class had a crazy senior season. Anderson racked up 22 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss while attending Hampton High in Georgia. He also impressed everyone enough to earn an Under Armour All-American game spot. After all, he decided to commit to Nick Saban, where he grew even more.
As a freshman, he would earn second-team All-SEC honors while being a force on the Crimson Tide defense. Anderson was a big reason they could handle Georgia and win the title. He followed up that act with an even stronger sequel, rare, and got everyone’s attention. He would earn a Unanimous All-American spot and win the Bronko Nagurski Award.
He has the accolades and stats, and now he needs to cement his legacy.
What You See When Watching Him
Speed for His Size
Anderson is listed at a whopping 6’4”, 248 pounds, but he moves like he is way less than that. He flies off the ball when you watch him, sometimes getting to tackles before they can get in their stance. Once he tries to set the edge, it is all over. Anderson also has no problem chasing ball carriers or QBs once he gets in the backfield.
We have seen edge talents like Myles Garrett and Aidan Hutchison dominate the combine. Most impressive in their combine performances? Their 40-yard dash performances. It shows a burst, of course, but also raw speed for edge rushers. Garrett and Hutchison tested 4.64 and 4.74, respectively, and expect Anderson to be in that ballpark.
Motor and Instincts
If the speed with his size doesn’t impress you, then his motor certainly will. Whether it is the first snap or late in the fourth quarter, Anderson does not stop. You wouldn’t know if you removed the clock from your screen and the announcing and watched a play late in the game. That motor is just half what makes him so lethal, and his instincts take the cake.
His instincts allow him to be in a position to make plays in both the run and pass game. Yes, Anderson is an edge rusher, but if an NFL team wanted him to play standup edge, he could. Over time he should be able to develop that aspect more, but in the meantime, he will be okay. Anderson should find success no matter how an NFL team decides to use him, and some roles are worth more for you IDP players.
We would be looking at the top prospect if we didn’t have this two-headed monster of quarterbacks. He may even grade higher than those two guys, but the NFL won’t see it that way. However, this is good; we could see a Kayvon Thibodeaux situation play out. He was seen as a top player in the 2022 class but fell to five in the draft.
Will that prove to be a mistake? Perhaps. Would four teams pass on Anderson regret it? Most likely. Get him now and get him early in whatever way you can acquire shares. Anderson is the next big thing to enter the NFL on the defensive side of the ball.
Do not miss out on him.
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