AUSTIN, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 10: Will Anderson Jr. #31 of the Alabama Crimson Tide takes the field before the game against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 10, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 10: Will Anderson Jr. #31 of the Alabama Crimson Tide takes the field before the game against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 10, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. Looks Like An Underachiever

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Nothing scares me more as an evaluator than an underachiever.

If you look at Alabama’s Will Anderson in the 2021 game film embedded below against Ole Miss, he looks like a different player compared to the very end of the Texas A&M contest (when the game was on the line), and compared to the SEC Championship vs. Georgia.

I’m not making this stuff up.

There is no question Anderson has pure first-round ability.

However, based on this three-game study it seems like Anderson may only play big in big moments and in big games?

Why is such a concern for Anderson?

For starters, Anderson is a consensus top-five pick in the NFL Draft Community. Currently, Anderson is being mocked to go No. 3 overall.

The concern is, the teams that finish with the worst records draft in the top-10, and if Anderson only turns it on in big moments and in big games, he may disappear if he gets selected by a rebuilding organization.

Nothing is more disheartening than an underachiever

Team building in the NFL is like a science project.

It’s all about chemistry and finding prospects who can move the proverbial meter.

Nothing is more disheartening for a fanbase than being sold a bill of goods about a supposed elite talent, only to find out that football really isn’t that important to him.

Go back and watch Anderson taking it easy against Ole Miss and Texas A&M for most of the game, and he’s not playing like football is important to him.

🚩The real Anderson doesn’t show up until the Georgia game in this random three-game study🚩

What’s the biggest risk with a talented underachiever?

The biggest risk is if they are dogging it at the college level, what will happen when they get paid in the NFL?

This is why there is no way Anderson can be slotted as a top-10 prospect at this point.

Top-10 is reserved for those who are not question marks.

Historically, 50% of first-round pass-rushers have not panned out, and right now, it could either way with Anderson based on what he’s showing.

I’ll still put a first-round grade on Anderson at this time, because again, he has first-round talent.

However, if the half-hearted effort from his 2021 game film persists, don’t expect to see him on my final first-round Big Board.

It’s easy to fall in love with Anderson’s statistics

His statistics are what is catapulting him into the top of the first-round discussion.

Anderson led the FBS with 17.5 sacks last season, and it’s all about being able to get to the quarterback (QB).

The number of pressures is also astounding.

There’s no question he has ability.

#31 Will Anderson Jr. 6-foot-4, 243 pounds

Daniel Kelly’s Grade: First-Round – Early Fall 2022 Report

First Round Mock Big Board: TBD

Projected by 98.1% of the NFL Draft Community to be a first-round pick as of September 17, 2022 (nflmockdraftdatabase.com)

2021 game film reviewed: Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Georgia (click to watch games viewed to form this evaluation)

2021 stats: 101 tackles (57 solo, 44 assists), 3 passes defended, 17.5 sacks

2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report:

No frills brute power underachieving bully with average bend and above-average playing speed. Versatile with long arms. Lines up all over the place. Can stand-up or play with his hand down in the dirt. Flashed quick first step, but most of the time first-step looked average. Lacks natural quick explosive twitch in his hips. Hip rigidity shows up when trying to make quick adjustments in space. He is best when using combination of quick hands and elite bulldozing power to plow through the back-door or collapse the pocket through an inside gap. Flashed spin and rip move one time a piece, but outside of that, didn’t show moves. Had some clean shots at the QB, but lacked short-area burst to close in time. Couldn’t seal the edge on a screen when dropping into zone coverage either. Turns off motor at times and gets handled. Loves to street fight with the big boys in the run game. Able to power in and make strong wrapping form tackles when he feels like it. Frustrating prospect.

What to watch for during the 2022 college football season:

  1. Consistent effort?
  2. Production total in 2022 vs. 2021?
  3. Does he show more polish as a pass-rusher?
  4. How does he look in low-key games?

Anderson left me with more questions than answers.

Daniel Kelly is a former NFL Scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated New York Jets and he is the Editor-in-Chief for First Round Mock. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @firstroundmock.

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