Our NFL rookie profile series continues with this analysis of 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Rodney Anderson, RB of Oklahoma. You can also check out all of our NFL Draft Prospect articles here. We will continue to provide you with these in-depth rookie profiles and a ton of other fantasy football rookie analysis right up through the NFL Draft. Stay tuned, and stay ahead of your league!
A broken leg ended his season in 2015, a broken vertebra cut his 2016 season short, and in 2018, the Heisman hopeful suffered a torn ACL ending his final collegiate season.
Rodney Anderson is a forgotten piece among the 2019 NFL Draft class, but given a further look, he actually is one of the most intriguing running backs. If he is able to stay healthy for at least his rookie year in the NFL, Anderson has the capability to be a dynamic offensive threat inside the gaps, with some receiving capabilities as well.
We know that the 2019 wide receiver class is going to be special. Well, at least that’s what Twitter pictures and Scouting Combine numbers tell us. In all seriousness, I wouldn’t be surprised to see two future Hall of Famers come out of this class but I will save that for another article.
The running back class, on the other hand, is very underwhelming from what we have seen. Josh Jacobs and Elijah Holyfield certainly did not help their draft stock at the combine, while undervalued backs like Mike Weber jumped up a bit but still lack the consistency and usage of every-down backs.
One name you may have overlooked is a prospect out of Oklahoma, Anderson. As the 20th-ranked player out of Texas in 2015, Anderson scored 93 touchdowns in his high school career and was rated as a four-star prospect in the 2015 class.
Anderson started his collegiate career with high hopes but had back-to-back season-ending injuries in 2015 and 2016. It wasn’t until 2017 when the Sooners made a run to the College Football Playoff that Anderson burst back onto the scene and soared up many devy rankings and draft boards.
With a disappointing finish to his college career, Anderson now plays the role of an underdog in this 2019 draft class, and who doesn’t like a good underdog story? I’ll breakdown why Anderson is one running back target you may want to grab late in your drafts.
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Table from sports-reference.com
As mentioned above, Anderson broke out in the second half of his 2017 debut, rushing on a clip of 6.2 yards per carry while scoring a balanced 13 rushing touchdowns and five receiving touchdowns.
A common basketball term is a player’s ability to “score in bunches,” and Anderson can certainly do that on the football field. In 2017, he scored four touchdowns in two of the Sooners’ pivotal matchups which really propelled Oklahoma into the Playoff. He totaled just 41 touches in those two games which translated into 408 total yards and eight touchdowns.
Most critics will point out the fact that his sample size is too small to balance out the red flags that he carries with injuries. I don’t deny that at all, it is a great point.
However, I would suggest that each of Anderson’s injuries has been quite unavoidable in nature. We have seen many college players with “freak” injuries bounce back and be effective NFL players. His most recent ACL injury should have no effect on his skill set, meaning I would expect a similar output from Anderson’s 2017 season when he takes the field in 2019.
Patience. Power. Persistence.
Anderson found the spotlight in the College Football Playoff against the sixth-ranked defense of the Georgia Bulldogs. I could have chosen one of his four-TD games, but this film gives the clearest picture of his strengths and exploits against NFL-caliber players.
Notice in the tape the tremendous patience and vision that Anderson displays as he waits for the inside gaps to open up. Even when the field closes down on him, he continues to move forward rather than bouncing back and forth across the field.
He balances his footwork with great power allowing him to finish runs falling forward and pushing the pile to grab a few extra yards. This requires defenders to make wrap-up tackles as his strength and size will break off simple arm tackles.
Finally, the one attribute that cannot be ignored is his receiving capability. It is rare for a back of his size and power to also have great hands and vision outside of the pocket. His receiving awareness is great and should be a trait he can improve upon in the NFL. While Georgia bottled him up through the air in this film, he still provides a dump off option which should render targets his way.
Anderson has some great historical comparisons. His ACL injury kept him from competing at the Combine, but he did test in the bench press and has some solid measurables amongst running backs.
Arian Foster, Knowshon Moreno, and Jamal Lewis all are players who Anderson compares to when we breakdown his physical attributes. While we know this does not translate to how a player actually performs on the field, these backs give us an idea of what kind of runner we can expect Anderson to be. As stated above: patience, power, and persistence.
Anderson put up 25 reps on the bench press, which ranked him fourth among running backs. While this proves his strength, we also have to remember it is likely the only part of lifting that he has been able to work on in the last six months since his injury.
Andy Singleton did a terrific video breakdown of Anderson which will provide a more in-depth analysis of his attributes from the perspective of a film expert. I highly suggest you check out his piece.
Anderson currently holds an ADP of 126.50 as of April and is being selected somewhere late in the second round of rookie drafts. While his landing spot in the upcoming NFL Draft will certainly determine his usage for the 2019 season, if you can grab Anderson very late in the second round or early third of your rookie drafts I wouldn’t hesitate to take him.
The injury concerns will turn a lot of owners off to him, meaning you should be able to get him much later than most of the high-caliber backs in this draft class. He has too much potential to be forgotten about and could translate into a terrific red zone threat in the NFL.