Scouting Alabama EDGE Will Anderson Jr.

The Las Vegas Raiders seriously need to help Maxx Crosby or fans will witness No. 98’s career go to waste. Chandler Jones was a free agent bust, and most likely it’s not going to get any better. Drafting Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. would be a good start next year to correct Dave Ziegler’s biggest offseason blunder to date.

Raiders Mock: Drafting Will Anderson Jr., Alabama, EDGE

Metrics/Background

Ahead of the NFL Combine season, Anderson is listed at 6-foot-4 and 243 pounds. He is arguably the top defenseman available during the NFL draft next April.

According to NFLDraftBuzz.com, Anderson was originally a four-star recruit who dropped out of high school. A native of Hampton, Georgia, Anderson attended Dutchtown High School and was one of the most sought-after prospects. Anderson immediately began playing for Alabama head coach Nick Saban. As a freshman, he played in 646 snaps.

Over the past three seasons, Anderson has amassed a whopping 32.5 sacks and 55.5 tackles for a loss. During this ongoing collegiate season, the acclaimed pass rusher has accumulated 195 total tackles. He’s been ranked No. 1 for tackles against a loss in both the nation and the SEC since last season, with 31 in 2021 and 14 this year. Anderson has been near or on top of several other key categories throughout his career, including sacks and solo tackles, and has won numerous accolades. Those honors included being named the SEC All-American and Defensive Player of the Year for 2021.

Strengthen

Pro Football Focus has consistently given Anderson respectable marks so far. 83.1 in pass rushing department and 83.5 in run defense, respectively. Even if you don’t like being in charge of college production, Anderson’s physical attributes justify his being considered a consensus top pick. The Raiders desperately need an elite pass rusher to bring their defense to life. Crosby is doing what he can, but one man alone cannot carry a complete defense. Placing him opposite No. 98 will give opposing coaches nightmares.

Anderson possesses possibly the best spin move of any prospect. With the right framework to be an NFL defensive end, Anderson’s speed and explosiveness will come in handy as he transitions into the professional ranks. He consistently overtakes blockers, often charging right past them when they try to break out of their initial stance. He won’t be able to do that to every NFL lineman, but he’s more than just a one-trick pony. Anderson can also be an advantage at stopping the run, thanks to his notable ability to disengage runners and chase fast.

More than just your typical edge rusher, Anderson can bring some much-needed blitz skills. The Raiders lacked a consistent pass rush inside; Adding Anderson and pocketing Veteran Aid inside could result in a powerful attack. If the Raiders plan on keeping Derek Carr around, it makes sense to take Anderson with them.

weaknesses

Although Anderson is this year’s top pick in the NFL, he’s not without his concerns. He will definitely need some size and more functional strength if he wants to be successful with the pros. It will be interesting to see how he fares in the combine power test. You can tell he lacks some size as he often tries to bypass blockers. He chooses to use his speed and quickness instead of bullrushing them. He can throw blockers, but there’s always a chance he’ll be countered by an NFL tackle if he mishandles him.

Las Vegas Raiders Draft: 2023 Big Board Top 50

*Top Photo: AP Photo/Vasha Hunt

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