Raiders Mock

Raiders Scouting Report: Alabama EDGE Will Anderson Jr.

The Las Vegas Raiders need to get Maxx Crosby some serious help, or else fans are going to witness No. 98’s career being wasted. Chandler Jones has been a free agent bust, and more than likely, that’s not going to get any better. Drafting Will Anderson Jr. out of Alabama would be a nice start next year to help rectify Dave Ziegler’s largest offseason blunder thus far.

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

Measurables/Background

Ahead of the NFL Combine season, Anderson is listed at 6-foot-4 and 243 pounds. He’s arguably the top defensive prospect that’ll be available next April during the NFL Draft.

According to NFLDraftBuzz.com, Anderson was originally a four-star recruit coming out of high school. Hailing from Hampton, Georgia, Anderson attended Dutchtown High School and was one of the most sought-after prospects. Anderson started playing right away for Nick Saban, the head coach of Alabama. He played in 646 snaps as a freshman.

In the last three seasons, Anderson has amassed a whopping 32.5 sacks and 55.5 tackles for a loss. During this current collegiate season, the vaunted pass rusher has accumulated 195 total tackles. He’s been No. 1 in both the nation and the SEC since last season for tackles for a loss, with 31 in 2021 and 14 this year. Anderson has been near or atop several other key categories throughout his career, including sacks and solo tackles, and has received numerous awards. Among these awards were being named an All-American and the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year for 2021.

Strengths

Pro Football Focus has currently issued respectable grades for Anderson across the board. 83.1 in the pass-rushing department and 83.5 in run defense, respectively. Even if you don’t like to account for college production, Anderson’s physical attributes warrant his being seen as the consensus top pick. For the Raiders, they desperately need an elite pass rusher to help bring their defense to life. Crosby is doing what he can, but one man alone can’t carry an entire defense. Placing him opposite of No. 98 will give opposing coaches nightmares.

Anderson possesses possibly the best spin move of any prospect. With the right frame to be an NFL defensive end, Anderson’s speed and explosiveness will come in handy as he transitions to the professional ranks. He consistently outrushes blockers, often bursting right past them as they try to get out of their initial stance. He won’t be able to do this to every NFL lineman, but he’s more than just a one-trick pony. Anderson can also be an asset in stopping the run thanks to a remarkable ability to disengage and rapidly chase down runners.

More than just a typical edge rusher, Anderson can bring with him much-needed blitzing ability inside. The Raiders have lacked a consistent pass rush inside; adding Anderson and plugging in some veteran help inside could translate into a potent attack. If the Raiders plan on keeping Derek Carr around, picking up Anderson makes sense.

Weaknesses

Despite being this year’s top NFL prospect, Anderson isn’t without some concerns. He’ll definitely need some mass and more functional strength if he’s going to succeed in the pros. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares in strength testing at the combine. You can tell he lacks some size as he often tries to go around blockers. He opts for using his speed and quickness rather than bullrushing them. He can shed blockers, but there’s always a chance he can get neutralized by an NFL tackle if he manhandles him.

Las Vegas Raiders Draft: 2023 Big Board Top 50

*Top Photo: AP Photo/Vasha Hunt

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