Will Anderson Jr. NFL Draft Overview
Weight: 243 pounds
2023 NFL Draft: Will Anderson Jr. Scouting Report
Following three highly successful years at Alabama, Will Anderson Jr. enters the 2023 NFL Draft aged 21. In 2022, Anderson played in 13 games, amassing 51 tackles, 17 for loss, 10 sacks, one interception and one touchdown. His 83.6 PFF grade tells the story. It was an excellent final season with the Crimson Tide.
Anderson burst onto the scene in 2020. Ever since his recruitment, he has been hyped up. In his impressive 2021 season, Anderson secured 101 tackles, 31 for loss and a whopping 17.5 sacks in 15 games. His freshman year was quieter, but still impressive. He managed 52 tackles, 10.5 for loss, seven sacks and one forced fumble through 13 games that year. For his efforts, Anderson was awarded the Chuck Bednarik Award (2022), the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (2021, 2022), the Lott Trophy (2022). He was also named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year twice (2021, 2022), is a two-time unanimous All-American, two-time First-Team All-SEC and was named to the Second-Team All-SEC his freshman year.
As it stands, Anderson is considered one of the best prospects in this year’s class. He is currently the second overall prospect on Mel Kiper Jr.’s big board and the third overall prospect on PFF’s. He is the number one overall prospect (on average) according to ESPN’s top-four pundits. You would be hard pressed to find any ranking that lists Anderson below third.
- Exceptionally high motor and always finishes plays;
- Good athletic profile all round, no real weaknesses to athleticism;
- Historically good college production;
- Disciplined in run defense, can keep contain and has good eye discipline;
- Can chase down running backs from backside;
- Good at destructing blocks in the run game;
- Is able to drop into coverage if needed and has shown that he can run with tight ends;
- Has a sneaky amount of versatility having been used as an off-ball linebacker, 3-4 interior defensive lineman and even as a defensive tackle (aside from his usual edge role);
- Plays with good pad level;
- Uses lengthy frame to his advantage;
- Can win with both power and speed (and often uses the right one for different situations);
- Very experienced player, received a lot of gametime at college;
- Is able to beat double teams and overcome chipping blockers with ease;
- Has shown that he can overpower interior offensive lineman as well as beat offensive tackles;
- High character guy who is a leader in the locker room
- Slightly undersized in terms of weight (and, as a result, strength) for NFL level;
- Does not have high-end, elite athleticism that is usually attached to blue-chip prospects (see Myles Garrett and Chase Young, for example);
- Could develop more pass-rush moves to broaden range;
- College production in 2021 was better than in 2022 (part of this was down to some changes in defensive scheme);
- Lacks a dominant, standout trait
NFL Comparison: Shaq Barrett
Teams With Need At Position: Chicago Bears, Houston Texans, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Projection: Top-Three Pick
Bottom Line on Will Anderson Jr.
The fact of the matter is that Anderson is probably one of the top two players in this draft class. Had he been in the 2022 NFL Draft, he likely would have gone first overall. Between Anderson and Jalen Carter, draft evaluators have a split between who is 1a and who is 1b. However, there is no denying that both players are blue-chip prospects.
No rookie is ‘can’t-miss’ but Anderson is very close. He is not a generational talent like Garrett or Nick Bosa were deemed to be. His lack of elite athleticism simply does not warrant such a label. However, Anderson’s production and tape really speaks for itself. There is too much to love and he hardly shows any faults. The 21-year-old has very good speed and power, has refined pass-rush moves, shows excellent hustle and is happy to run sideline-to-sideline. His high character is merely another bonus to his exceptional portfolio.
With all that said, Anderson is a high-floor prospect. Teams know what they will be getting with Anderson: a high-effort, tried-and-tested pass rusher. His ceiling is, however, slightly limited by his smaller size and lack of generational athleticism. But, evidently, ‘potentially not being generational’ fails to amount to any real criticism of Anderson: he is essentially as flawless a draft prospect as they come at a valuable position.
Main Photo: Gary Cosby Jr. – USA Today Sports