Will Anderson Jr. 2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report


Name: William Anderson Jr.
Position: Edge rusher
School: Alabama
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 243 lbs
Games watched: vs. Texas (2022), vs. Georgia (’21 NCG), vs. Auburn (2021), vs. Tennessee (2022), vs. Ole Miss (2022), vs. LSU (2022)

If you have been watching college football for the past two seasons or done any digging into the 2023 NFL draft class, you have heard of Will Anderson Jr. The Alabama edge rusher is one of the most productive and prolific players in college football. Anderson is a two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year, a 2021 All-American (likely 2022 selection as well) and a National Champion back in 2020. He also won the Lott Trophy, the Lombardi Award, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (twice) and the Chuck Bednarik Award in his storied college career. I still think he got snubbed in 2021 for the Heisman, but I digress.

Awards are great but Anderson’s production is even better. He tallied 34.5 sacks and 58.5 tackles for loss in 30 career games with the Tide. He now has three straight seasons with double digit tackles for loss and topped out in 2021 with a whopping 31 TFLs to go with 17.5 sacks.

Pros

Anderson has one of the quickest first steps in college football. He flies off the line and utilizes that blazing speed to get a jump on opposing tackles. He does a nice job with his hand placement to keep himself disengaged from opposing linemen, allowing him to penetrate the backfield with ease. Anderson is capable of moving linemen with his heavy hands and strong lower half, but it is not a staple of his game. He plays with a high motor and has above average power. His bend and length on the edge make him a real problem on just about every snap. Seeking out contact is not a problem, as Anderson routinely sets the edge in the run game. As a bonus, Anderson can play with his hand in the dirt or standing up, and he is comfortable lining up on either side of the formation.

Cons

Most of my criticism of Anderson is nitpicking, but for as productive a player as he is, he misses quite a few tackles. While his incredibly successful as a pass rusher, I believe there is room to grow his array of pass rushing moves. His motor fluctuated at times during his junior season, notably in the Texas game, where it was clear he was taking some plays off. He lacks elite open field speed, struggling to keep up with some of the faster quarterbacks Alabama faced when they broke contain. Additionally, he is far from an elite run defender, but does more than enough to be a three-down player.

Synopsis

Anderson is going to be one of the top five players selected in the 2023 NFL draft, barring an injury in the pre-draft process. He is a special pass rusher with room to add more muscle to his frame. His production is among the best we’ve ever seen at the collegiate level. He routinely faced NFL-caliber talent and should be a Day 1 contributor.

Ideal scheme fit: Attacking 3-4 outside linebacker or 4-3 defensive end

Grade: 92.5

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