Will Anderson Jr. NFL Draft Scouting Report
EDGE, Alabama Crimson Tide
Will Anderson Jr. has been one of the most recognizable and decorated defensive prospects of this era. During his career at Alabama, Anderson has been named a two-time All-American, a two-time Nagurski Award winner, and a Bednarik Award winner. Anderson finished his career with 34.5 sacks and 62 tackles for loss, trailing only Derrick Thomas in school history.
During his time at Alabama, Anderson was utilized in multiple defensive lineman alignments, lining up as an edge player, 3-tech, and 4-tech, which put him in positions to attack the weak spots of a defense and disrupt plays with physicality. Anderson consistently made game-changing plays in both the run game and as a pass rusher, showcasing relentless effort, physicality, and being the most intense player on the field.
As a run defender, Anderson has a unique style in that he attacks the offense’s blocking scheme. On pulling plays, Anderson attacks upfield to meet the offensive lineman and delivers a high-impact collision to disrupt the structure of the blocking scheme and it often results in a tackle for loss for Anderson or a teammate. On edge-contain plays, he shows to have great technique and functional strength—he can properly set the edge and keep leverage by keeping his outside hand free to make a play. The most unique element of Anderson as a defender is the called twist and stunts that Alabama utilizes, which allow Anderson to attack the interior gaps of an offensive line with momentum, overwhelming offensive linemen with power, speed, and physicality. In the run game, his style is all about attacking and physically imposing his will on offensive linemen to be a dominant run defender.
Much like how he profiles as a run defender, Anderson also wins in the same ways as a pass rusher. On high-percentage passing downs, Alabama utilizes him on twists and stunts which makes it difficult for offensive lines to key in on him and potentially double-team him. When looping from an outside gap to an interior, Anderson accelerates around the corner and has power and speed that can be too much for offensive linemen to stop. Anderson has great acceleration to get past offensive linemen and close to the quarterback. When he is put in a position to take a traditional pass-rush track on the outside edge of the tackle, he has an explosive first step and his functional strength shows when he can convert speed to power to get to the quarterback. Anderson’s hand usage as an edge rusher shows in his two-hand swipe, and he also prefers to use a long-arm to apply force to the offensive lineman and collapse them back into the quarterback.
Looking at the details of Anderson’s skill set, there is an area for improvement for him as a pass rusher. As of now, Anderson is a power rusher who is reliant upon only a couple of moves to win as a pass rusher. This allows offensive linemen to prepare themselves for power. Right now, offensive linemen take an inside leverage approach to Anderson and force him to play through their frame. Anderson could improve by becoming more diverse as a pass rusher and adding more speed and counters to his game. Anderson could improve by adding spin counters, hesitation moves, and cross-chops to cross the face of offensive linemen. This will present a wider area for offensive linemen to have to block and present better angles for Anderson to get to the quarterback.
Overall, Anderson has proven to be a dominant edge player that plays with the passion and intensity wanted from a high draft pick and the character franchises want for a face-of-the-franchise player.
Top Reasons to Buy In:
- High-level athletic profile
- Dominant run defender
- Sack production
- High character
Top Reasons For Concern:
- Position-specific player
- Development as a nuanced pass rusher
Size (NFL Combine):
Height: 6′ 3 1/2”
Weight: 253 lbs
Arm Length: 33 7/8”
Hand Size: 9 7/8”
Athletic Testing (NFL Combine):
40-yard Dash: 4.60s
Vertical Jump: TBD
Broad Jump: TBD
Bench Reps: TBD
Ideal Role: Starting stand-up edge defender
Scheme Fit: 3-4 OLB
TDN Consensus Grade: 92.50/100 (First-Round Value)
- Sanchez Grade: 92.50/100
Written By: Keith Sanchez
Exposures: LSU (2022), Auburn (2022), Texas (2022), Tennessee (2022), Texas A&M (2022), Georgia CC (2021), Georgia NC (2021)
Will Anderson Jr. NFL Draft Scouting Report. Add him to your big board here.