Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson is coming off yet another double-digit sack season for the Crimson Tide. The former five-star recruit out of Georgia has been seen as a top NFL Draft prospect since arriving in Tuscaloosa back in 2020.
Anderson announced on Monday that he has opted to forgo his senior season and enter the 2023 NFL Draft. He joined star Alabama quarterback Bryce Young in making that decision shortly after the team defeated Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Eve.
The 6-foot-4, 243-pound edge guy joins the likes of Nick Bosa, Chase Young and Aidan Hutchinson as top-end pass-rush options to have entered the draft in recent years. He could go No. 1 overall. Even if that doesn’t happen, it would be a surprise if Anderson fell outside of the top five. Below, we look at four ideal landing spots for the generational pass rusher.
Related: 2023 NFL mock draft
Houston Texans land another defensive anchor
Despite having won two games thus far this season, one can easily conclude that Houston has a couple nice building blocks on defense. That cames in the form of rookie defensive backs Derek Stingley Jr. and Jalen Pitre. However, the team needs to find someone to get to the quarterback. It has racked up 37 sacks in 16 games with veteran Jerry Hughes leading the way (nine sacks).
- Will Anderson stats (2020-22): 204 tackles (58.5 for loss), 34.5 sacks
Back in 2021, Anderson recorded 31 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks. While his numbers took a dip this past season, we’re talking about someone who can make an immediate impact. If the Texans were to take him at No. 1, the team could conceivably move up from its current spot at 12th overall for a quarterback of the future with either Young or Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud being the target. It just makes too much sense.
Related: Sportsnaut’s NFL defense rankings
Seattle Seahawks surprise with Will Anderson
Currently slated to pick No. 3 overall, Seattle is in a great position. Still in playoff contention, the team landed this selection from Denver in the blockbuster Russell Wilson trade. It still has its own first-round pick (projected to be 18th) to fill holes at other positions. But the idea of adding a dominant edge rusher in the NFC West is something general manager John Schneider might not be able to pass up on.
Anderson is not scheme specific. He can play in both 4-3 and 3-4 bases. He has a chance to become an immediate impact performer and will likely be the odds-on NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year favorite out of the gate. Despite a surprising season, Seattle ranks in the bottom 10 of the NFL in points allowed. Teaming Anderson up with fellow youngster Darrell Taylor would make for a great tandem in the Pacific Northwest over the course of the next several years.
Arizona Cardinals go defense with first-round pick
Much has been made about head coach Kliff Kingsbury and his struggles forming an NFL-caliber offense for this downtrodden team. With that said, Arizona ranks in the bottom four of the NFL in points allowed. Opposing quarterbacks have thrown 26 touchdowns against 11 interceptions while being sacked a mere 32 times in 16 games on the season. J.J. Watt, who is set to retire after the season, leads the squad with 10.5 sacks. Not another member of the Cards’ defense has as many as six.
The modern NFL requires a consistent pass rush to help out the secondary. Arizona has not had that in some time. If it is going to turn this thing around on defense, exhausting a top-five pick on a player of Will Anderson’s ilk should be in the cards.
Philadelphia Eagles trade up for Will Anderson
On the surface, this makes no real sense. Philadelphia ranks No. 1 in the NFL with 68 sacks through 16 games. It has four players with double-digit sacks and a fifth in Fletcher Cox (seven sacks) threatening to reach that number.
With all of that said, there’s some nuance to this. Both Javon Hargrave and Fletcher Cox are set to become free agents after the 2022 season. Josh Sweat suffered a scary-looking injury in Week 16. At 34 years old, there’s no telling how much longer Brandon Graham is going to play at a high level. Trading up from the 10th selection (acquired from the New Orleans Saints) to add another elite-level pass rusher could very well be in the cards for general manager Howie Roseman and Co.