As the NFL season winds down, FantasyPros will be taking a look at early NFL draft scouting reports before the combine in March. Here’s a look at Will Anderson Jr.
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Will Anderson Jr. (DE – Alabama*)
6’4” – 243 lbs.
Five-star recruit who started as a 235-pound freshman, finishing with a strong line of 52-10.5-7.0 before totally dominating college football last season en route to a staggering 101-33.5-17.5. Took home the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, annually awarded to the top defensive player in college football as determined by the FWAA. PFF had him with a league-leading combined 82 total sacks/hits/hurries, also ranking him first in defensive stops (53) and sixth in pressure rate (18.1%). Followed that with a strong junior year of 51-17.0-10.0.
Five-star recruit who was able to produce immediately and had unreal production over the past two seasons, especially as a sophomore. Took snaps both standing up and with his hand in the dirt. Brings snap-to-snap urgency and toughness. Fires out with excellent explosiveness and leverage and is able to reset the line of scrimmage in the run game against bigger tackles, getting low and walking them back to stuff plays in the run game. Able to hold the point of attack and discard when needed; anchor is much better than his size would suggest. Maintains discipline on the backside and outside leverage when run at. Consistent arm extension and strong hand placement allows him to control opponents and find/scrape toward the ball. Has excellent range in pursuit and is able to navigate through tight spaces to find the ball carrier; flows well horizontally. Varies his rush approach, with a good mix of moves and attention to detail with his hands. Some ability to convert speed to power as an edge rusher, with nice leg drive after contact; maintains positioning to defend against draws. Bends a smooth arc to the passer, with strong contact balance and a low shoulder dip. Able to get depth and then discard blockers to work back inside. Impressive closing burst and wingspan to finish when he gets a lane. Deadly on stunts, with impressive lateral quickness. Consistently gets hands up to contest passing lanes on the front side. Also able to drop into coverage, often on zone blitz concepts. Does a good job of sniffing out developing screens.
Lanky with a somewhat thin and narrow build; might not be able to accommodate too much extra bulk. Minor balance issues at times when coming off of blocks in the run game. Doesn’t always give full effort in backside pursuit. Can look like he’s panicking with his reads at times in zone.
One of the safest elite prospects in some time, he lacks the ideal size of some recent top picks on the edge, but has one of the most well-rounded games, with more power and physicality than similarly-built players like Von Miller. Could potentially fit best as a “Leo” in a 4-3 Under front, but would also fit well as a primary pass-rusher in any scheme, whether an even or odd front. Should be one of the first players off the board on draft day, if not the first.
Projection: Round 1
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