Nick Saban Sings High Praise for Will Anderson, Jr. at Alabama Pro Day

Nick Saban

Getty Images Nick Saban in October of 2022 leading the Crimson Tide.

At Alabama’s 2023 Pro Day, nearly 20 current and former Crimson Tide stars took the field to display their talents in front of representatives from over ten NFL franchises.

Nick Saban spoke with reporters at the event and shared very high praise for one player in particular. Speaking on his former five-star and future first round draft pick, Will Anderson, Jr., Saban said, “He’s got great size, great ability and he’s a very good pass rusher,” the coach continued, “But I’m talking about a guy that’s a great person and has throwback competitive character in terms of toughness, work ethic and great leadership.”

“I can’t say enough good things about Will Anderson.”

Anderson is projected by many to be one of the top selections in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft in April, and if coach Saban’s words are any indication of what type of player he is, whatever team picks Anderson will be very happy.

Saban’s full comments can be found here.

What Makes Anderson an Elite Talent?

A five-star recruit and the top rated player in the state of Georgia in 2020, per 247Sports, Anderson joined the Tide with high expectations, but has still managed to greatly exceed them.

Will Anderson, Jr.

Getty ImagesWill Anderson, Jr. Celebrates as a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2022.

As a freshman, the 6-foot-3, 245 pound edge rusher proved himself early, earning a starting role in the fall and finishing his first season in college football with an incredible 52 tackles, 10.5 TFLs and 7.0 sacks.

As a sophomore, Anderson continued his streak of dominance, chewing up offensive tackles and spitting them out like it was nothing on every opportunity. He helped lead an Alabama defense that finished the season ranked 18th and took home the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded each season to college football’s best defender.

In his final year with the Tide, Anderson once again continued to show why he is compared to the likes of Derrick Thomas, another Crimson Tide legend. The Dutchtown, Georgia native ended his last college season with 51 total tackles, 17.0 TFLs, and 10.0 sacks. He sits in fourth place all-time for sacks in the Crimson Tide record books behind notable names such as the aforementioned Thomas as well as Kindal Moorehead and Jonathan Allen.

In just three seasons at the Capstone, Anderson solidified himself as one of the best to ever pass through the program. His unique blend of speed off the ball and overwhelming strength at the point of attack make him a valuable asset for any NFL team.

Potential Landing Spots for Anderson

While it seems to be a foregone conclusion that the top overall pick will be used on a quarterback, Anderson is still likely to be scooped up in the top ten when the NFL Draft kicks off on April 27.

Outside of the quarterback needy teams in the top end of round one, there are a few landing spots that could make sense for a player like Anderson.

Arizona Cardinals – The Cardinals hold the third overall pick in this year’s draft and while there are some holes on the offense, Arizona’s defense was atrocious in 2022. As a unit, the Cardinals defense ranked second to last and were in the bottom third of the league in total sacks, meaning a player like Anderson could potentially step in and be an immediate difference maker.

Seattle Seahawks – Another team that ranked near the bottom of the league in total defense last season, Seattle holds pick No. 5 and could certainly use Anderson’s talent and skillset. While the Seahawks managed to finish top ten in sacks, the run defense was lackluster and bringing in a well-rounded player like Anderson could mean spell good things for the team that limped into the playoffs in 2022.