Arthur Smith has stated on multiple occasions that the pass rush will be a focal point of the offseason. For years, the Falcons have been the worst team at sacking the quarterback, and that needs to change if they ever want to become legit contenders. No matter how talented, one man alone isn’t going to change it, but Will Anderson Jr. would be a helluva start.
This continues my series of potential first-round targets for the Falcons. If you missed any of the previous editions, follow the links below.
Will Anderson Jr. Draft Profile
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Will Anderson Jr. is not falling to the Falcons at #8. However, suppose three quarterbacks go in the top five. In that case, there’s a scenario where I could see Terry Fontenot potentially pulling the trigger and trading up, so I have to cover him as a potential first-round target.
The narrative surrounding Will Anderson is comical to me. It’s overwhelmingly apparent that he was almost too dominant for his own good as a sophomore, recording a ridiculous 31.0 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks for the Crimson Tide. It was arguably the best single season ever for a pass rusher in college football, and it was so good that people seem to think he lost a step after recording 17.0 tackles for loss and 10.0 sacks as a junior. He also gets knocked for ‘coasting’ this season, but that doesn’t bother me. Anderson is the best pass rusher in this draft class, and there’s not even a close second.
As with every player coming out of college, Anderson can improve his technique as a pass rusher and develop a more diverse repertoire of moves to get after the quarterback. Right now, he primarily uses his power and athleticism to overwhelm offensive linemen. That won’t be as effective at the next level, but with the right defensive coordinator, he can be a double-digit sack guy as a rookie.
However, what makes Anderson an even more enticing prospect is he’s not just a one-trick pony. He’s also a dominant presence against the run, flashing an elite ability to set the edge and finish ball carriers behind the line of scrimmage.
I could go on and on about Anderson. The hype around him following his outrageous sophomore campaign was palpable. He should have been a Heisman finalist, but somehow, I feel like that’s almost hurting him leading into the draft. It’s almost as if he didn’t live up to expectations as a junior, despite having an unbelievable year by all standards. Whoever lands Will Anderson Jr. is going to be very happy.
How would you feel if the Falcons somehow landed Will Anderson?
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