I got in touch with several writers on the college football blogs. I wanted to get their thoughts on the Redskins newest draft picks and ask a few more revealing questions about how these players fit on the team and their chances of making an impact either immediately or down the line. Joshua Chatham of Roll ‘Bama ‘Roll gave us some great information regarding new Redskin OLB Ryan Anderson.
Cadillactica: Could you give us your impression of what the Alabama coaches thought of Anderson?
Joshua Chatham: Like most Alabama players, Anderson had the luxury of starting out behind other blue chip athletes. By the time he was asked to do the heavy lifting, he had a superb grasp of the defense. Saban certainly seems to consider him a leader:
He's a smart player. He really plays his position well, whether we're playing regular or his role in nickel. He understands the pass coverage part of what we have to do. For an outside backer it's really critical to have some guys that can do that.His leadership, his pass-rush ability, his ability to run, he's just a very, very good all-around football player that has done a fantastic job for us.
As far as personality goes, Ryan describes himself as "hateful." He once started a fight by laying out a receiver in a high school seven-on seven-game then got into a fight with the opposing QB, who happened to be Jameis Winston.
Cadillactica: I was absolutely ecstatic when Anderson was selected by the Redskins in the second round. He was one of my absolute favorite players in this entire draft and just reminds me of an old school Steeler/Baltimore linebacker. Some over at HH didn't understand my excitement and are worried about Anderson's athletic traits. Could you give us your elevator pitch on why he will be a difference-maker at the next level?
Joshua Chatham: Anderson's tape speaks for itself in terms of his motor and intensity. As Saban mentioned above, however, it will be his football IQ that gives him staying power. Watch his tape and you will see a player who is never out of position. Granted, when you have a defense as talented as Alabama's the players are often told not to take unnecessary risks, but Anderson still seems to be around the football at all times. He is particularly adept at sniffing out a screen pass. I have been saying for months that some team is going to get one hell of a professional football player who is going to have a long career as a starter in the league.
Cadillactica: Anderson is the first true 3-4 linebacker the team has drafted in ages. In the past, the Redskins have been drafting 4-3 college defensive ends and converting them to outside linebacker. While that has worked out with a player like Ryan Kerrigan it hasn't worked out as well with other players. Can you talk about how you think Anderson fits in a 3-4 scheme and if he's better suited on the strongside, weakside, or even the middle?
Joshua Chatham: Funny enough, Anderson was basically a rush end until his senior season. That wasn't because it was the only thing he could do, it's just what he did best and was the role he was asked to fill off the bench. As a senior, he moved into a full-time starting role at the sam position. He has the versatility to play most anywhere, but I'm not sure he will be quite ready to be an elite coverage guy right away. I imagine that he will be used more as an edge setter on standard downs and, of course, pass rusher until he adapts to the athleticism of NFL tight ends.
Cadillactica: What would describe as his biggest strengths and weaknesses?
Joshua Chatham: His strengths are his smarts, attitude, and bend in the pass rush. Also tackling, as he never seems to miss one. You don't play at Alabama unless you can be effective against the run, and Anderson is one of the best both setting the edge and tackling in space.
His weaknesses are a lack of ideal speed, limited experience in pass coverage, and a limited set of moves in the pass rush game. He has a solid speed rush and bull rush, but he needs a counter.
Cadillactica: Could you sum up his play in a single word or phrase?
Joshua Chatham: I'll go back to "professional." The man approached his work at Alabama exactly the way you would want him to. He demands performance from himself and others. As far as favorite plays, it would have to come down to the sack/fumble to put the 2015 Tennessee game away and his pick six in the Peach Bowl. I have a feeling y'all have clips of those already.
Well, my mind was already made up months ago and in truth, Josh is preaching to the choir when it comes to my opinion on Ryan Anderson. I am so glad the team drafted him and I think he will make an immediate impact on the team. As I have already mentioned I think he can challenge Preston Smith for the starting job (I’m not putting any chips in the Galette pot) and he could by preseason's end named the starter at weakside linebacker. Despite some comments I have seen on this hypothetical scenario I don’t really view it as a negative for Preston Smith. I think he is better rushing with his hand in the dirt anyway and should be used similarly to Ryan Kerrigan in that regard. I would love to see Anderson, Smith, Kerrigan and possibly Galette all on three field at the same time on an obvious passing down. I couldn’t care less about Anderson’s 40 time. He’s going to get to the QB a lot.