Name: Rodney Anderson
CONFERENCE: Big 12
POSITION: Running Back
CLASS: RS Junior
JERSEY: No. 24
RECRUITMENT RATING: 4-star
WT: 219 lbs
Vision –Patience and vision shines best when allowing pulling OL to work across face from deep alignments and ID where to break into the second level. Experienced a lot of light boxes courtesy of the Oklahoma spread offense.
Feet/Change of Direction –Loose hips are complimented by above average foot speed to transition out of a press into the line of scrimmage and get width when needing to cut into an adjacent lane. Nimble in lateral redirection opportunities.
Durability –Limited workload over the course of three seasons at Oklahoma and an ACL tear early in 2018 pose some concern for longevity. So too does his build, where long torso creates a natural challenge when needing to drop shoulders and diminish surface area.
Balance –Has little issue with stepping around or through traffic at his feet, carries momentum well when needing to string together several cuts. Loose hips allow for corrections on the fly and will extend plays after first contact.
Pass Protection –Has offered some pretty pathetic efforts trying to stand in the pocket and hold up free runners off of the second level. Passive at first contact, too prone to letting his feet die and catching without a punch in the hands. Needs a lot of polish and improvement here.
Elusiveness –Slippery runner thanks in part to loose hips and swervy running style, will twist out of the grasp of would-be tacklers at the last moment. Carries a good blend of power to keep defenders on their heels in the open field.
Receiving Ability –Made a big impact on several games as a receiver out of the backfield, heady knack for waiting for second level flow to vacate before leaking out into routes. Shows soft hands and is a natural receiver when working down the field and having to look back and ID the ball.
Short Yardage Skill –Natural strength and power are potent enough to move the pile when needing to grind out the tough yardage. Secondary effort and contact balance are valuable in transitioning out of a hit and continuing to twist and fall forward for the extra yard.
Football Intelligence –Has been featured in a number of different rushing concepts, including power sweeps, read action, and gap/power rushes between the tackles. All will come in useful at the next level and versatility of rushing offense figures to be a positive for expanding team appeal.
Effort –Pass protection efforts aside, is a hard-nosed runner who is active in the run game and was given a positive effort out of two back personnel groups when tasked with blocking a LB for a teammate. Maximizes rushing potential with efforts to get to the boundary.
PLAYER COMPARISON – Jay Ajayi
BEST TRAIT – Balance
WORST TRAIT – Pass Protection
BEST FILM – TCU (2017)
WORST FILM – Oklahoma State (2017)
RED FLAGS – September 2018 ACL INJ
Rodney Anderson plays with an effective blend of balance, power and explosiveness. His best projection would be as a gap/power runner, where his patience pressing the line of scrimmage can most consistently shine. While Anderson is a loose-hipped runner, consistent outside zone usage would not play well to his strengths as a player.
Feet – Runs from a balanced base and attacks creases with good timing. Foot speed is impressive for his size. Always keeps his feet moving through contact. Stop-start ability is smooth for his size. More springy than expected and gets good width on his cuts.
Vision – Good vision to and through the hole. Sees the field well in space which enables him to rip off chunk runs. Strings moves together well that are in synch with how he reads the field. More patience is needed at times. Rarely gets stuck in the same vicinity.
Pass Protection – His frame suggests that he should excel in pass pro but he has his share of struggles. Doesn’t square up rushers consistently and land his punch. Guilty of dropping his head and he gets side stepped by rushers. Needs work.
Receiving – TCU 2017 is a great example of his receiving upside. Was used as a receiver out of the backfield and flexed out wide where he showcased the ability to high point the football and demonstrate his hands, ball skills and body control. Open field vision is taken advantage of as a receiver. Was a modest part of his game in college but the ability is present for it to be a prominent piece of his NFL role.
Balance – Illustrates the ability to sustain his momentum through contact and gains additional yardage after contact. Requires an honest tackling effort to bring him down and arm tackles don’t affect his course. Absorbs contact with ease. Base is always balanced.
Elusiveness – More shifty and agile for his size than expected. Good lateral mobility and fluidity to execute dynamic cuts. Illustrates good wiggle through contact. Springy off his plant foot and is capable of making tacklers miss in space. Diminishes his surface area well.
Power – Has good power throughout his frame and is capable of moving piles and taking tacklers for a ride. Runs with good forward lean and churns out tough yards post-contact. Should be a viable short-yardage option in the NFL.
Competitive Toughness – Is an assertive runner that is willing to challenge any tackler with physicality. Pads are low and battles for every inch. Effort in pass pro is questionable at times. Effective with his off hand to execute stiff arms.
Versatility – Skill set translates best to a gap/power scheme with modest upside in zone. Can win inside or outside the tackles as a runner. Potent receiving option but underwhelms in pass protection.
BEST TRAIT – Balance
WORST TRAIT – Pass Protection
RED FLAGS – 2018 season-ending ACL tear. 2016 season-ending fractured vertebra in neck. 2015 season-ending broken leg.
Rodney Anderson is a multifaceted back that blends size, power and elusiveness to form an intriguing prospect. With significant season-ending injuries in 2015, 2016 and 2018, his health is a major red flag to his evaluation. If he can stay healthy, Anderson has the upside to be a feature back in the NFL. He fits best to a gap/power run scheme but can also produce as a receiver. Assuming he’s healthy, by year three, Anderson has the ability to be a starter that commands 15-20 touches per game and is highly productive.
PROS: Ideal NFL level build and athleticism. Runs behind his pads. Does a good job of staying behind his blockers, patiently waiting for a hole to open. More effective running behind pullers. Has positive contact balance and does a good job avoiding low tacklers despite taller frame. Runs through arm tackles and defenders generally need to square him up to bring him to the ground. Can get vertical and find dirty yards between the tackles. Possesses quality long speed and field vision in the open field. Lethal space player.
Though he isn’t overly powerful when taking on tacklers head on, he consistently picks up yards moving forward through contact. When a hole opens, he does a good job of hitting it quickly. Sticks his foot in the ground and glides by his blockers at the second level. Positive lateral mover behind the line of scrimmage and in the open field. Willing blocker in pass protection.
CONS: Can occasionally have questionable vision behind the line of scrimmage on inside and zone runs. Too quick to cut back or bounce on inside zone. Only has average burst through the hole compared to NFL running backs.
Has suffered multiple season-ending injuries throughout collegiate career. Durability will be a question mark upon entering the NFL.
PROS: Has an NFL frame and great athleticism for his size. Straight-line burst impresses for a 220 lb back — can destroy angles when breaking into space in the second and third level alike. Ability to explode creates poor tackling angles, which — in combination with excellent thickness in lower half and contact balance — makes Anderson a tough ask to tackle in space. Willing to drop his pads into contact to deliver a shot; regularly falls forward and often breaks the initial contact. Ability to work at steep angles through the lower half and retain balance, especially in an instant/instinctively, shines through as special.
Has an excellent feel for second- and third-level flow and understands how to manipulate box defenders when pressing the line of scrimmage. Third level anticipation and instincts particularly impress. A one-cut runner who likes to get north and pick up positive yardage. Has excellent hands out of the backfield and has run a full tree of routes. Will line up in the slot/to the outside and win downfield as well. Pass protection generally a mixed bag, but there’s promise.
CONS: Not particularly agile and doesn’t make many players miss in space. Given size/speed profile, needs extra gather steps/gallops to change direction when buzzing at full throttle. Noteworthy: ability to redirect and explode when pressing line of scrimmage is fine.
Has an urgent running style that may partially be necessitated by scheme. Regardless, gets too frantic pushing behind pullers and is guilty of jumping at first sunlight, over-anticipating the timing of the blocking scheme. Eagerness will also lead to some herky-jerkiness and indecision behind the line. Will become slightly too married to the backside cut on zone flow, but not to a terrible point. Must improve willingness to take on contact with square shoulder in pass protection.