A quick glance at the stat sheet would make it seem like Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson is having a down year. That is, compared to the absurd standard that he set in 2021 when he led the nation with 17.5 sacks. During an appearance on The Paul Finebaum Show Friday, top NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay both defended Anderson and confirmed his status as a top prospect in the 2023 draft.
“I’ve gone back and watched even more tape in preparing for the draft… cause every week you keep telling me that somebody else has been on the show and talking about how Will Anderson’s not the same player,” McShay said. “I don’t see that. I will give you that he has missed some sacks. He’s left some plays on the field by missing tackles and not finishing a little bit moreso than a year ago and that’s why his sack numbers, tackle numbers will probably be down from a year ago when the season ends. But he’s one of two players in the country with 30 pressures this year. So you’re talking about an elite level.
“And you also have to remember: every team, the first thing they do when they’re getting ready for Alabama week, offensively in their meetings they’re figuring out, okay, what are we gonna do to take that guy out of the picture. We’ve got to make sure Will Anderson doesn’t beat us. It’s sliding protection, it’s double-teaming, chipping, all of those different things. I don’t think there’s a player in the country that gets more attention on the defensive side than Will Anderson does on a weekly basis and he still has 30 pressures to this point. One of only two guys, with Tyree Wilson from Texas Tech who’s going to be a first-round pick, probably top-10 pick. Those two guys have been the two most dominant and disruptive pass rushers in the country. I don’t care what the sack numbers say. It’s all about getting pressure and disrupting and that’s what Will Anderson and Tyree Wilson have done.”
Even though he has yet to reach double-digits yet, Anderson still has eight sacks. That is tied for 11th-most in the FBS, and he is on pace to reach at least 10 before the regular season is over. The talented junior is really starting to hit his stride, as well, as he has at least one sack in each of Alabama’s past three games.
In fact, he has at least half a sack in all but three games this year. He also has one interception, which he returned for a touchdown, and 42 total tackles. Most mock drafts have Anderson firmly inside the top-10 picks in the first round, with some listing him as a top-five player and the first non-quarterback taken off the board.
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“Right now, I’m focused on getting my degree,” Anderson said when asked about goals for his future. “I graduate on Dec. 10 this year. I got my degree in 2.5 years. That’s one thing that I’m very excited about. Right now, I’m just focused on my grades and connecting with these younger guys, making sure that they’re good and helping them become leaders next year. I’m showing them how to do things and trying to get tight with them to help them for next year. That’s kind of what I see in my future.”
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