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2017 NFL Draft: Potential Panther? Ryan Anderson, OLB/DE, Alabama

Mario Addison had a great season in 2016, but could leave via free agency. Would Ryan Anderson make a suitable replacement?

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Anderson, OLB/DE, Alabama

Bio

Anderson came to Alabama as a five-star prospect by 247sports.com, which ranked him as the nation's No. 19 overall prospect and the No. 1 outside linebacker (most graded Anderson as a four-star recruit). He red-shirted in 2012, and was used as a reserve for the next three years, gaining more playing time in 2015. While Anderson played only 15-to-20 snaps per game for the Tide as a junior, in that limited time, he posted 37 tackles, 11.5 TFL, six sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a team-leading 10 quarterback hurries.

Update (After LSU Game)

Anderson had a strong start to the 2016 season, finishing with a sack, two hits and two hurries on 25 pass rushing snaps against USC. Anderson had been a part-time player until this year, but is relishing a larger role in the Alabama defense in 2016. After playing 32.7 percent of Alabama’s defensive snaps in 2014 and 32.5 percent in 2015, he has played 59.6 percent this year. Going into the Tennessee game, he had registered five sacks, seven hits, and 13 hurries in 2016. Against the Vols, Anderson picked up four pressures (two QB hits, and two hurries) on 19 rushes.

Time and time again, he set the edge against the Aggies. Anderson finished with just four tackles, but three were for loss. His forced fumble late in the third was returned for a touchdown.

Anderson had a pretty quiet first half against LSU, but that quickly changed as he sacked the QB on the first play of the third quarter. Later, he caused LSU's first turnover as he hit the quarterback as he threw, causing the interception. Anderson rushed the passer just 24 times against LSU, but still managed to rack up two sacks, three hits and two hurries.

Anderson appears to have a more diverse skill-set than Tim Williams, and looks more scheme-diverse. His best position will likely be as a SAM.

Draftbreakdown

Update #2 (College football playoffs)

Anderson has come up with a lot of big plays this season and that continued against Washington. Late in the first half Anderson was covering a back in the flat and had a pass float right to him for an interception that he ran into the end zone for a touchdown.

Against Clemson, Anderson recovered two fumbles, causing one himself, and had a sack. Additionally, he finished with seven tackles, including five solo stops.

Anderson is a tough run defender that can blitz off the edge. Not as long or athletic as most teams prefer, he should be an early second-round pick that finds a way to make an impact.

Senior Bowl Update

Anderson measured just over 6'2 and 258 pounds, nearly identical to his school bio.

There were conflicting reports on Anderson's performance there. He was injured in Thursday's practice, and was unable to play in the game.

Anderson looked tremendous today. He easily moved around the field for a 258lb linebacker and looked really good in coverage drills. He got depth on his pass drops, showed good hands for the pick and was very athletic.

- Tony Pauline

Of the EDGE to linebacker types, it is clear Reddick and Houston’s Tyus Bowser offer far more pass rushing upside than Ryan Anderson. Reddick and Bowser are explosive and possess bend, Anderson does not.

- Josh Norris (RotoWorld)

Conclusion

Given how Alabama used him, it is easy to envision Anderson as an OLB in a 3-4 defense, but what about a SAM in a 4-3 who moves to a pass-rushing position on third down. Could Anderson be used like a poor man's Von Miller in the NFL? What about as a designated pass-rusher? Could be fulfill the role that Addison played so well in 2016?

I have placed Anderson just outside of the first round on every big board I have created since last summer, but he is not the type of athlete that will impress in shorts. While, I have seen him occasionally mocked toward the back end of round one, I believe he will likely be picked somewhere between picks 50-75.

What are your thoughts?