With the incoming draft class looking to be heavy at the wide receiver position, running backs can often get lost in the shuffle. Let’s take a look at a player who gives you an option to zig while many others zag (drafting wide receivers) in this upcoming rookie draft.
As a recruit
Rodney Anderson was a four-star recruit (0.9332 composite score according to 247sports) out of Katy, Texas. At 6’0″, 204 pounds coming out of high school, he was seen by many as a bigger all-purpose back who displayed great vision, running strength, soft hands and even an affinity as a punt returner. In his high school career, Anderson rushed for an absurd 6,744 yards with a mind-boggling 103 rushing touchdowns.
He originally committed to Texas A&M during his junior season, but recanted his commitment during his senior season. After receiving offers from Baylor, Auburn, Oklahoma, Texas and Michigan State among others, Anderson decided to commit to Oklahoma. Many scouts viewed Anderson as a powerful all-purpose back, and he backed up his speed with a reported 4.43-second 40-yard dash.
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Statistics from sports-reference.com.
Anderson’s college career was plagued by injuries. In his freshman season (2015), he suffered a season-ending leg injury in Oklahoma’s second game of the season at Tennessee on kickoff coverage.
In August, before his second season in Norman, Anderson would suffer yet another season-ending injury. This time, he broke a bone in his neck during an intrasquad scrimmage during the preseason.
In his third season with Oklahoma (as a redshirt sophomore), Anderson finally played 13 games and showed why he was such a highly-touted back. He rushed for 1,161 yards on 188 attempts (a 6.2 yards per carry average) and 13 touchdowns on the ground. He also showed off his soft hands and elite receiving skills by adding 17 receptions for 281 yards and five scores.
Anderson looked to build off his impressive redshirt sophomore season entering his final year, however injuries once again derailed his season. In Oklahoma’s second game of the year against UCLA, Anderson suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Anderson is 6’2″, 223 pounds (according to 247sports) and profiles very similar to another ex-Sooner running back Adrian Peterson. Both have elite physical traits in size and speed, both run with nice balance and have three-down ability to stay on the field in any game situation.
Anderson’s reported 4.43-second 40-yard dash time in high school showed off his elite top-end speed, especially for a back over 200 pounds that young.
- Long Speed
- Receiving ability
- Pad Level
- Pass protection
- Short area quickness
Anderson’s medicals this off-season and at the Scouting Combine will be key for his draft stock. While Anderson has the physical abilities that are likely to make NFL general managers and scouts drool, his lack of production (due to injuries) will be a major red flag. I see Anderson being too difficult to pass up in the third round, and he has the upside to be a late first-round pick if his medicals come back without long-term concern.
Tale of the tape
Here are a couple of clips of what I saw when watching Anderson on tape.
Here, we see him hitting the hole with speed, using his balance and agility to make a defender miss. His long speed helps him turn this run into a big gain.
In the above video, Anderson finds a soft spot in the defense for his scrambling quarterback, makes the catch and used his speed to turn this play into a big gain.
Anderson will be a polarizing prospect this off-season. His elite physical traits and what he showed while healthy at Oklahoma will have some seeing the high upside he has. Others, however, will undoubtedly look at Anderson’s lack of college production and panache for injuries as too much risk to spend a first round rookie pick on.
A lot will be decided closer to the Combine when we find out more about the medicals and how NFL executives weigh the long term risk of adding Anderson to their squads.
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