With the their selection in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the 49th pick overall, the Washington Redskins took OLB Ryan Anderson of the University of Alabama.
A college teammate of DE Jonathan Allen, whom the Skins took in the first round last night, Anderson is an edge pass-rusher who should add some versatility to Washington’s defense.
Anderson fell to the second round because he doesn’t have elite speed and at 6’2″ he doesn’t have the length that teams usually want in a pass-rushing outside linebacker. However, he is strong and powerful and has superior discipline and work ethic, the sort of thing any team, but particularly the Redskins, would want a key player for the future.
The Skins took Anderson because OLB Trent Murphy is suspended the first four games of the 2017 season and will be a free agent at the end of the year. Meanwhile, OLB Junior Galette has torn both Achilles Tendons the last two offseasons and hasn’t played a down since 2014. Meanwhile, Preston Smith has flashed some ability, but is inconsistent and did not have a strong sophomore season in 2016.
From NFL analyst Lance Zierlein:
Thick through shoulders and chest with good upper-body power. Exhibits professional approach on the field. Disciplined and married to his assignments. Stays clean. Comes into the league with NFL-caliber hand work. Ready hands at point of attack with a willingness to stick and move to avoid being swallowed by size. Sets a sturdy edge and makes a point to physically challenge tight ends early in the game. Will “dead arm” inside shoulder to alter blocker’s balance and sneak around the outside hand. Relentless charge as a pass rusher and gets home thanks to his effort. Leverages runners to the sideline and rarely gives up a cut-back lane. Tackle finisher who is always hustling. Plays teammate ball over hero ball. Has experience at outside linebacker in both 3-4 and 4-3. Forced five fumbles over last two seasons.
Relatively average athlete for the position. Lacks desired pursuit speed and closing burst as a 4-3 linebacker. Hips are a little stiff and he lacks plus range of motion. Could struggle with cover skills in space. Short arms could become an issue if asked to stack the edge against NFL tackles. Effort rusher missing desired traits found in consistent NFL pass rushers. His edge rush is more elongated and gradual than tight and sharp. Gets punched by tackles while shoulders are still square, causing him to flatten out as a rusher.
SOURCES TELL US
“Size is more suited for 4-3 SAM but he could play some rush outside backer in a 3-4. He would fit Baltimore and Pittsburgh as a 3-4 SAM, too.” — NFC area scout
Well-schooled with a high football IQ and a history as a winner. His disciplined, assignment-based approach to the game should resonate with defensive coordinators. Lack of length and average athletic traits could put a cap on his draft stock, but he should be a safe pick and a long-time starter as an outside linebacker.