Alabama has two very solid edge rushers in Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson. Williams is the more athletic and more pure pass rusher of the two, but Anderson is more well-rounded. Anderson also has a knack of making big plays in big moments for Alabama, whether it’s a sack on 3rd or 4th down, an interception dropping into coverage, or a run stuff, he can do it all. The Patriots value versatility, and an edge defender that can handle multiple assignments certainly fits that criteria.
Anderson isn’t the best athlete off the edge, but seems to have a natural feel for the game. Where he can’t bend around the edge, he makes up for being able to reverse direction and work his way back up the pocket. Anderson can rush from both a 2 and 3-point stance and his ability to rush and drop allows the Patriots to be able to disguise their pressures, whether it comes up the middle or off the edge.
Vs. USC 2016
Anderson shows up on a few plays here, including a huge 4th down sack with USC in plus territory. He also recorded 3 more pressures in the game, lining up at left end most of the game. He also played right end and Mike linebacker, although he was rushing almost exclusively in this game.
Vs. Washington 2016
Anderson doesn’t stand out as much in this game, struggling to turn the corner on a lot of speed rushes. He does record a pick six in the flat when a teammate pressured Jake Browning. The play itself was a huge momentum flip. Anderson does show up in the 4th quarter as a rusher, recording 3 pressures as Browning had pressure the entire second half down multiple scores. His speed to power technique does need some work. Late in the game, they moved him inside to a standing 3-technique role.
Patriots Fit: Anderson could be an immediate plug and play guy in the defense and special teams. I see him playing a 3rd edge defender role as a rookie, but should crack the starting lineup on a full-time basis in 2018. Anderson could see some looks where he’s lined up inside in a 4-2 nickel to create a 1-on-1 with an guard or center. Anderson isn’t athletic enough to warrant a first round grade, but his ability to make big plays on defense warrants a high 2nd round grade. I’ll be surprised if he’s on the board past the 45th pick. Anderson is the type of guy the Patriots might target in a trade back from 32 scenario, picking him at 32 if no offers materialize.
Pro Comp: Rob Ninkovich. Nink is a bit more athletic than Anderson, but both are very capable of handling multiple assignments, whether it’s setting the edge, rushing the passer, or dropping into coverage. While Anderson isn’t the best edge rusher at any one thing, he can do a lot of things well and that’s what counts.