VDT: Alabama EDGE Will Anderson Jr. Has All-Pro Potential

Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31) celebrates after a defensive stop on fourth down in the second half the NCAA Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Alabama Crimson Tide defeated Cincinnati Bearcats 27-6. Cotton Bowl Cincinnati Bearcats Alabama Crimson Tide Ac 428

If you want to find a player with the smoothest transition to NFL stardom in this draft class, look no further than Alabama EDGE Will Anderson. He has been a ferocious pass rusher throughout his career with Alabama, setting records all over the place. Today, as part of the Vikings Draft Thermometer series, we are going to break down why he looks like one of the most promising prospects in recent memory.


Jan 10, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31) reacts after being beat by the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2022 CFP college football national championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
  • Height: 6′ 3 1/2″
  • Weight: 253 pounds
  • Arm Length: 33 7/8″
  • Hand Size: 9 7/8″
  • 40-Yard Dash: 4.60 seconds
  • 10-Yard Split: 1.61 seconds
  • School: Alabama
  • Games Watched: Vanderbilt (2022), Tennessee (2022), LSU (2022), Auburn (2022)


Alabama linebacker Christian Harris (8) and Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31) combine to sack Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) in the 2021 College Football Playoff Semifinal game at the 86th Cotton Bowl in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas Friday, Dec. 31, 2021. Alabama defeated Cincinnati 27-6 to advance to the national championship game. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.] College Football Playoffs Alabama Vs Cincinnati
  • 2020: 52 tackles, 10.5 TFLs, 7 sacks, 1 forced fumble (13 games)
  • 2021: 101 tackles, 31 TFLs, 17.5 sacks, 3 passes defended (15 games)
  • 2022: 51 tackles, 17 TFLs, 10 sacks, 1 pass defended, 1 INT (13 games)


Alabama EDGE Will Anderson Jr.
Mar 1, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama linebacker Will Anderson (LB02) during the NFL Scouting Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Right off the bat, Anderson’s 2021 season was one of the most dominant campaigns we’ve ever seen from a defender, and the case could be made that he was just as worthy of Heisman consideration as his teammate Bryce Young. 31 TFLs and 17.5 sacks each led the NCAA by wide margins, and he pulled these numbers off in one of the toughest conferences in the country.

Anderson is very good athlete despite being 250+ pounds and combines that athleticism with power that overwhelms smaller tackles. He beats offensive linemen with a litany of intricate moves and constantly has opponents guessing as to what he’s going to do next. If he gets matched up on a tight end, it’s game over for the opponent.

Everything Anderson accomplishes couldn’t be done without extreme efficiency throughout the rep. He explodes off the line, has buttery smooth lateral movements, and uses his length to get the leverage advantage.


Nov 19, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Austin Peay quarterback Mike DiLiello (12) is tackled by Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31) at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

There really aren’t many concerns with Anderson that could turn him into a below-average player. He seems destined for success at the NFL, but it did feel like he got bored at times in 2022. There were certainly instances where he didn’t bring the same intensity to snaps that he did during 2021, but this will very likely get cleared up as he tries to establish himself at the next level.

In terms of actual play, lengthier tackles could pose a problem for him. If you watch the Tennessee game against Darnell Wright (a likely top-50 pick in this spring’s draft), the lack of ability to consistently win the leverage battle posed issues throughout the game. This will simply be a learning process for him as he gets used to the NFL game and learns the tricks that pass-rushers have used for years.

NFL Projection

Oct 8, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31) reacts after a sack against the Texas A&M Aggies during the first half at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
  • Draft Round: Top 5
  • Immediate Role: Starting EDGE
  • Best-Case Scenario: Healthy Myles Garrett
  • Vikings Draft Temperature: 0

There is very little chance that Will Anderson finds a way outside of the top 5 in this draft, especially with Jalen Carter’s recent fall due to his off-the-field concerns. Even if the Vikings found a way to trade into that top 5, they’d more than likely be trading up for a QB rather than an EDGE. I don’t see any chance that Anderson suits up for the Vikings next season, even though he may be the most sure-thing prospect in this class.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.