Unless something unexpected happens, the New York Giants are unlikely to select an EDGE in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. They might not even be able to address the position in the second round either, depending on how the first 35 picks in the draft fall.
That means that despite having a pressing need to add a pass rusher, the Giants might have to wait until the end of the Top-100 or even into the fourth round to address the position.
If that’s the case, they could look at Bradlee Anae out of Utah. Anae is on the fringes of the discussion around the draft, but he has been consistently productive for the Utes and is coming off a very productive 2019 campaign. Could Anae be a value pick to solve the Giants’ pass rush problems?
Prospect: Bradlee Anae (EDGE, Utah)
Games Watched: vs. BYU (2019), vs. USC (2019), vs. Oregon (2019), vs. Texas (2019)
Red Flags: None
Games Played: 39
Tackles For a loss: 40.0
Forced Fumbles: 5
Games Played: 12
Tackles For a loss: 14.0
Forced Fumbles: 1
Best: Get-off, play strength, motor, competitive toughness
Worst: Agility, bend
Projection: A rotational pass rusher in a one-gap defense.
Bradlee Anae is a high-effort, high-motor pass rusher with good size to play an EDGE position in the NFL. Anae lines up on both sides of Utah’s defensive front, rushing from both the left and right, as well as the occasional rush on the interior. Anae has good linear explosion and flashes a dangerous get-off to stress offensive linemen. He shows the ability to time the snap count and get a good jump off the ball, maximizing his short-area explosiveness. Anae is primarily a power rusher, but he flashes a good rip move as well as a spin move and the ability to convert speed into power. His greatest asset is his motor and competitive toughness. Anae gives consistent effort and battles through reps, and has made plays through sheer persistence. He routinely fights through blocks and shows good hustle in pursuit of plays away from him.
Anae lacks great agility and lower-body flexibility, which could hold him back as an every-down player at the NFL level. He struggles to bend and carry speed around the edge as a pass rusher, and can be tripped up trying to navigate crowded spaces near the line of scrimmage. Anae was asked to drop into coverage to disguise zone blitzes, but does not move well in space. His lack of long speed also limits his range or ability to make plays in space.
Anae would also do well to develop his counter moves, as he can struggle to shed blockers if his initial rush fails to create pressure.
Overall Grade: 5.9 - Has the traits to be a good back-up and a core special teams player. Could potentially be a spot starter in the right scheme if necessary. A value late on Day 2 or early on Day 3. [Grading Scale]
Bradlee Anae projects best as a rotational pass rusher in a one-gap defense. He has a versatile enough frame to play as a third defensive end in a 4-3 front or a rush linebacker in a 3-4 front. He has the play strength to hold up on the edge as a run defender, but needs to be more aggressive in taking on blocks in those situations.
Anae’s greatest trait is his competitive toughness and hustle, but he also shows good linear explosion which can translate into a very good get-off as a pass rusher. Anae usually does a good job of timing the snap and can be in the backfield before the offensive tackle has time to react. He also shows some upside with speed counters, flashing a good rip move as well as a swipe, spin, and speed to power. Becoming more consistent with these moves, and perhaps adding to his repertoire, would help make him a more consistent and dangerous rusher.
Anae will need to be schemed direct routes into the backfield, either from a wide alignment or as an interior rusher. He doesn’t show great bend and can struggle to carry speed when forced to bend back to the quarterback.
Though Anae was frequently asked to drop into coverage in college, he should spend his time going downhill in the NFL. He doesn’t have the movement skills to play in space and his lack of long speed would be a liability at the NFL level.
His motor and competitive toughness will likely make Anae a favorite among coaches and he should have upside as a good sub-package player and a core special teams player.