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Giants 2021 roster profile: Edge Ryan Anderson

Free-agent acquisition should provide edge depth, solid special teams play

NFL: DEC 29 Redskins at Cowboys
Ryan Anderson
Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Free agency is nothing but a distant, though pleasant, memory. The 2021 NFL Draft is in the rear view mirror. It is now time to begin the long, excruciating wait for the New York Giants to begin training camp. Especially since little will happen this year in the way of offseason workouts.

One of the ways we do that each year is by profiling each player on the Giants’ 90-man roster. We go alphabetically, at least most of the way. Which means first up in outside linebacker Ryan Anderson, signed as a free agent after four moderately successful seasons with the Washington Football Team.

The basics

Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 255
Age: 27 when season starts
Position: OLB
Experience: 4
Contract: One-year, $1.1275M | Guaranteed: $137,500

Career to date

Anderson was a second-round pick by Washington out of — you guessed it, Alabama — in 2017. Anderson hasn’t perhaps lived up to being the 49th overall player selected in that 2017 draft. He has only started started four games and made just 86 tackles in four seasons.

Here is what Chris Pflum wrote about Anderson back in a 2017 prospect profile:

“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 [not] be a superstar at the next level, but he will be a good player who will show up every game.”

The only season in which Anderson played more than 200 defensive snaps was 2019. That year, he played 559 snaps (49 percent) of Washington’s defensive snaps. He had four of his six career sacks and a career-best 44 tackles.

Chase Young’s arrival in Washington, though, pushed Anderson back into a reserve role.

2021 outlook

Looking for an experienced replacement for Kyler Fackrell and Jabaal Sheard, it makes sense that the Giants would take a chance on this former Alabama player. After all, sometimes it feels like head coach Joe Judge, a former assistant for Nick Saban at Alabama, is turning his team into the New York Crimson Tide.

The arrival of Azeez Ojulari might do to Anderson in New York what the arrival of Young did in Washington — make him a reserve player. The Giants also have Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin vying for roster spots and playing time on the edge.

Anderson has been a useful player on special teams in Washington, playing 642 special teams snaps. He has seen extensive time on kickoff and punt coverage units. All of that special teams experience should give Anderson an inside track at a spot on the 53-man roster, even if he doesn’t end up being a regular part of Patrick Graham’s defensive rotations.