The Good: Anderson is one of the more famous defensive players in recent college football history, and you don’t rack up 34.5 career sacks plus a Top 5 Heisman Trophy finish without a ton of game to back up the fame. Anderson is a hyena on a football field, playing with a relentless motor and violently shedding the blocks of anyone who gets between him and the QB or ballcarrier. Anderson has dynamite closing speed and shows great burst coming off the edge, and he packs plenty of pop in his hands to go along with his explosiveness. Anderson shoots through any glimmer of light that opens up in a gap on the offensive line, and he has the quick feet to sidestep any obstacles in his path. Despite weighing in on the lighter end for EDGE prospects, Anderson is tremendous against the run – particularly as a backside run defender – and he’s far more stout aligned as a traditional DL than his size suggests. Anderson has the contact balance to stand up any lineman, and he’s twitched up enough to destroy any IOL who’s tasked with blocking him on a passing play. As a pass rusher, Anderson’s instincts shine in his ability to quickly attack the weak shoulders of leaning OTs.
The Bad: Sticking with Anderson’s pass rushing, it currently exists with a relatively shocking lack of refinement given his experience. His pash rush plan is too heavily composed of speed-to-power right now, and when Anderson attempts to add wrinkles into his rushes he’s typically slow to get into them. Once Anderson is locked into OTs, he’ll never stop driving his legs but Anderson doesn’t showcase much in the way of skill-based counters. Anderson is tight-hipped too, so while he can burn around the edge he’s not the type to bend around it. Anderson’s size isn’t an issue per se – as I wrote earlier – but he’s not much of a people-mover and he can get himself into trouble engaging with larger OLs.
The Bottom Line: Will Anderson, still 21 years old, is an extremely productive, skilled, and high-effort prospect at a premium position. There isn’t too much to opine about him; he’s a surefire pick for the top half of Round 1 in any NFL Draft. I will say that Anderson isn’t a perfect prospect per my grading; I actually had a slightly higher grade on Kayvon Thibodeaux last year. But he’s scheme proof with a high floor and high ceiling, and for that reason he reminds me of Aidan Hutchison from a year ago – even if they are stylistically different from one another. Detroit did the right thing taking Hutchinson at Pick 2 last year; we’ll see who makes the same good call on Anderson.
Grade: Top 10 Pick
Pro Comp: Terrell Suggs
- Georgia 2021
- Cincinnati 2021
- Georgia 2021 (National Championship Game)
- Texas 2022
- Texas A&M 2022
- Tennessee 2022
- LSU 2022