Career Recap: Georgia has been a factory for top-notch defensive talent under Kirby Smart, and Anderson will continue that trend for the 2022 NFL Draft. Anderson was a top recruit coming out of high school, but he has had a hard time taking on a large role for the Bulldogs, who have been loaded at the position and utlizing a steady rotation.
Anderson recorded 16 tackles and .5 sacks in 2018 before following that up with six tackles and two sacks as a sophomore. In 2020, Georgia fielded a potent group of four edge rushers who were rotated onto the field. Azeez Ojulari was the team's lead rusher, while Anderson, Nolan Smith and Jermaine Johnson shifted in and out. In part-time duty as a designated pass rusher, Anderson was tremendous at putting heat on the quarterback, totaling 6.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and a pass batted in 2020. He only recorded 14 tackles on the season, however, because Ojulari played over Anderson on run downs.
2021 Season Outlook: Anderson should be a three-down starting defender in 2021 because Ojulari departed for the NFL and Johnson transferred to Florida State. As one could expect, Anderson should see a lot of good talent in 2021. The season starts with the Clemson Tigers, who will be breaking in a new left tackle after losing Jackson Carman to the NFL. Kentucky's Darian Kinnard could be the best tackle he will face all season. Florida's Jean Delance and Missouri's Zeke Powell are other quality tackles who could test Anderson.
Skill-Set Summary: There is no doubt Anderson has a special skill set, and he has a ton of upside to develop. The NFL is passing-driven league that plays in the sub package - nickel defense - on the majority of snaps, so a dangerous quarterback hunter like Anderson is going to be demand in every draft.
As a pass rusher, Anderson is tremendous and produces quarterback pressure at an insane rate. The consistent pressure Anderson applies is reminiscent of what Chase Young did at Ohio State, when it seemed very rare to see a rush on which Young did not put some heat on the quarterback. Anderson saw a similar success rate in his part-time role in 2020.
Anderson is a bolt of lightning off the ball, possessing an amazing first-step. Off the snap, it looks Anderson is shot out of cannon given how he explodes upfield with his shocking speed. Offensive tackles are taken by surprise at how fast Anderson is and how quickly he penetrates into the backfield. When free, Anderson closes in a blur, and his play speed is really off the charts. Anderson is insanely fast and is the definition of a speed demon off the edge.
On top of being very fast, Anderson has an uncanny ability to bend his long frame. He can sink his hips and lower his upper body to get underneath the reach of tackles while continuing to push into the pocket. Anderson is cat quick with his feet and in his ability to change direction. Those, along with his speed, make him dangerous to cut to the inside. In 2021, it would be nice to see him continue to develop variety in his pass-rushing moves, including adding a spin move and improving his hands to disengage blockers. Growing stronger to help shed blocks is a point of improvement for the NFL as well.
In the ground game, Anderson has the potential to be a solid defender, but it is part of his game that needs to be developed. While he has some strength for his size, Anderson needs to add more power to hold up as a run defender for the NFL. The older and more experienced Ojulari was a solid run defender, so he was on the field instead of Anderson in 2020, but that should change now that Ojulari is in the NFL. Anderson has to improve his ability to set the edge and hold up against downhill runs coming straight at him, and that is the big point of emphasis for 2021.
Depending on how Anderson's run defense develops over this coming season, he end up as a better fit for 3-4 outside linebacker. If he struggles against the run, he may not be a good option play base end in a 4-3 defense. If Anderson continues to add bulk and holds up well in run defense over 2021, he could be a base end option in a 4-3.
Preseasons projections from team sources have Anderson running the 40-yard dash at 4.5 seconds flat, which is an excellent time for a linebacker. After doing training before the combine and pro day, that time could drop into the 4.4s or even 4.3s.
Anderson has an amazing skill set with rare speed and pass-rush ability. He has the potential to be an impactful pass rusher and big-time sack producer in the NFL.
2022 NFL Draft Expectations: Entering the 2021 season, some team advance scouts have Anderson as their highest graded player in the preseason. That is just a projection, and he could fall, but Anderson has made a great first impression and could be a potential high first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.