The Alabama Crimson Tide fielded a historically great defense in 2016. Not only did they allow the second fewest yards among FBS teams, they also scored a whopping 11 defensive touchdowns in 14 games. For comparison the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons (tied for the most defensive touchdowns in 2016), scored a combined 10 defensive touchdowns.
The Alabama defense is stacked and loaded with talent, with potential (even likely) first round draft picks at every level of their defense.
But one of their most productive players isn’t getting the same draft hype as many of his teammates. That is outside linebacker and occasional defensive end Ryan Anderson.
The New York Giants have expressed interest in edge rushers, could Anderson be a fit later in the draft?
- Very productive in 2016 for Alabama. Lead team in tackles for a loss and 2nd on team in sacks.
- Reportedly has great intangibles. High football IQ, high effort, and a team leader.
- Good enough athlete.
- Good hand usage and pad level make him a handful for blockers
- Doesn’t have great or explosive athleticism.
- Only one year of production.
- Played on a very talented Alabama defense. Offenses couldn’t focus on any one defender.
Does He Fit With The Giants?
Anderson doesn’t have the length the Giants usually like, but if he lasts into the mid-rounds he could find a home in their front seven.
Anderson would likely play a role similar to that of Devon Kennard, a SAM linebacker who moves up to the defensive line in certain situations.
Anderson is a good enough, and fluid enough, athlete that he can drop into coverage when necessary, but he is at his best coming downhill. He uses his hands well dealing with blockers, which lets him use his natural power to make plays in the backfield.
Big Board Rankings
Big Blue View - 78th overall
CBS Sports - 83rd overall
Draft Countdown - 64th overall
Draft Tek - 90th overall
The Alabama defense wasn’t just stout in 2016,it was an offensive force unto itself. But the breadth and depth of talent that let that defense consistently play at such a high level makes it a bit tough to evaluate the individual players.
Some players, like Jonathan Allen, stand out even among a talented cast and make evaluation easy. But for others the question needs to be asked how much they were helped by being on such a thoroughly talented cast. That, and questions about his athleticism, are being asked about Ryan Anderson.
He can’t help that he was surrounded by talent, and he isn’t a phenomenal athlete.
But he is just a good football player.
Anderson was one of the emotional leaders on that team and is regarded as having a tremendous football IQ. He might be a superstar at the next level, but he will be a good player who will show up every game.