Will Anderson Jr. NFL Draft Scouting Report
Will Anderson Jr. NFL Draft Introduction
The NFL draft is just around the corner, and one of the top prospects that fans and experts alike are keeping an eye on is Will Anderson Jr. The talented defensive player has been making waves in the college football scene, and his impressive resume speaks for itself.
Will Anderson Jr. is from Hampton, GA where he played high school football at Dutchtown High School. Anderson spent three years at the University of Alabama, where he made a name for himself as one of the best defensive prospects of this era. He was a two-time All-American and Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner, only second player in history to win the award twice. In addition, Anderson holds the record for the second-most sacks (34.5) and tackles for loss (62) in Alabama’s history, trailing only legendary defensive end and Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas.
His numbers were slightly down from his 17.5 sacks season for the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2021 that led the nation, but his draft stock was not impacted at all. Will Anderson Jr. finished with 10 sacks this year that led the SEC and placed him 6th in the nation. In 2021, he had 34.5 tackles for loss and finished third in the country with 21.5 in 2022. He created 124 pressures over the past two seasons, 49 more than the second-best defender.
He also won the Bednarik Award, Rotary Lombardi Award, and Lott IMPACT Trophy. He was a unanimous first team All-American, first team All-American at linebacker and edge defender, and was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press and league coaches.
Although he peaked in his Sophomore season in terms of statistics, Will Anderson Jr. put up an impressive three year career. He was second team all SEC as a Sophomore and first team all SEC as a junior.
He will forgo his senior season at Alabama and declared for the 2023 NFL draft in April.
Will Anderson Jr. NFL Draft
Anderson is versatile, explosive off the line, and never takes plays off. He can play as a stand-up outside linebacker, down defensive end, or tackle, and was used in various ways by the Alabama Crimson Tide.
What sets Anderson apart is his versatility and unique style of play. He lined up in multiple defensive positions, including edge player, 3-technique, and 4-technique, which allowed him to attack the weak spots of a defense and disrupt plays with his physicality. Anderson’s game-changing plays, both in the run game and as a pass rusher, showcase his relentless effort and intense nature on the field.
Player Comparison: Khalil Mack
Will Anderson Jr. forty yard dash: 4.55 seconds
Run Game Strengths
Anderson’s style of play as a run defender is all about physically imposing his will on offensive tackles. He attacks the offense’s blocking scheme and delivers high-impact collisions, resulting in tackles for loss for himself or his teammates.
Anderson Jr. is also a dominant edge defender who uses his technique and functional strength to set the edge and keep leverage. Alabama also utilized Anderson in twists and stunts, which allowed him to attack the interior gaps of the offensive line with speed, power, and physicality.
Pass Rush Strengths
Anderson’s success as a pass rusher is just as impressive. On high-percentage passing downs, Alabama utilized him on twists and stunts, making it difficult for offensive lines to key in on him. Anderson has great acceleration, allowing him to close in on the quarterback and get past offensive tackles. He has an explosive first step, and his functional strength allows him to convert speed to power when rushing the quarterback. Anderson’s hand usage, such as his two-hand swipe and long-arm, also adds to his success as a pass rusher.
He combines great speed and outstanding movement skills to consistently beat the best offensive lines in the country. He was too much as a bull rusher for opposing tackles and he was able to maneuver around chip blocks and double teams with ease.
Scouting Report – Areas for Improvement
Will Anderson Jr. is arguably one of the best edge rushers not just in Crimson Tide program history but in all of college football. A 34.5 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks season catapulted him to near the top in school history and led FBS in 2021 put him in that discussion and a really solid junior year cemented his place in history.
Even someone of his caliber in college needs to make some improvements to ensure he’s just as dominant in the NFL. Currently, he is reliant on a few moves to win as a pass rusher, which makes him predictable to offensive linemen. Anderson could benefit from becoming more diverse as a pass rusher and adding more speed and counters to his game. This would present a wider area for offensive linemen to block and better angles for Anderson to get to the quarterback.
He relied heavily on his pure athleticism and speed to best tackles on stunts, twists, and bull rush, so he was able to penetrate gaps and beat them off the edge. He’ll need to develop moves and work on using his hands to work off blocks at the next level.
If he can combine a plan of attack and excellent hand use to his pass rush arsenal, he will clearly be a double-digit sacks defensive player in the NFL.
Will Anderson Jr. Draft Summary
Despite these areas for improvement, Anderson has proven himself to be a dominant edge player with the passion, intensity, and character that franchises look for in high draft picks. He is a high-level athlete with a dominant run defense, impressive sack production, and a high character off the field. Overall, Will Anderson Jr. is a top prospect that NFL fans should keep an eye on during this year’s draft.
- Unbelievable speed off the edge
- Consistent play throughout career and tops in school history, led FBS
- Total tackles, not just sacks – makes plays in run game
Areas for Improvement:
- Want to see more one-on-one wins vs tackles (not stunts/twists)
- Plan of attack, when facing a tackles through entire game
- Improve Technique (hands)
Will Anderson Jr. earned the top overall rank on our draft big board. It’s hard to argue that he’s not the top player after nearly topping Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas in many of his program history records.
The SEC defensive player of the year and first team all SEC, Will Anderson Jr. may very well be the first overall pick in the draft. The Chicago Bears will likely trade back, but if they don’t Anderson Jr. may be their pick. It’s a toss up between him and Jalen Carter. Every team that is not in the market for a quarterback would be lucky to add him to their defensive line.