Buccaneers 2017 NFL Draft Profile: LB Ryan Anderson

Mar 4, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson speaks to the media during the 2017 combine at Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 4, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson speaks to the media during the 2017 combine at Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Heading into the 2017 NFL off-season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had a question mark on their defense. Will Ryan Anderson out of Alabama fill the hole at SAM linebacker?

For the 2016 NFL season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were lucky enough to bring in a veteran presence such as Daryl Smith to not only play the SAM linebacker position but also to mentor the young players.

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Now although Smith’s play was very limited throughout the season due to the scheme where he only saw the field around 40% of the defensive snaps, he made the most of the opportunity. Smith was able to tally a total of 28 tackles and one interception throughout the season, which although is a substantial drop off from previous seasons, was enough for his one eleventh.

After the season, not much was known on whether General Manager Jason Licht and Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith would prefer the return of Smith or not, but the writing on the wall has begun. It is believed that Smith does not want to retire, but yet the Bucs are on the move to get younger at the position.

In the 2016 NFL draft the Bucs selected Devante Bond in the sixth round out of Oklahoma. Bond’s selection was perceived as being the eventual heir to the SAM linebacker position that Smith held throughout the year. Unfortunately during the pre-season Bond suffered a hamstring “ailment” and was placed on injured reserve.

This move essentially was to provide Bond with a red-shirt season, much like what the Bucs did with Kenny Bell his rookie year.

Now if you know the Bucs, you know disappointingly enough Bell never amounted to anything in the Bay which lead to his inevitable release from the team. As for Bond, this is also a possibility. Not to mention as a sixth round draft selection, he was lucky enough to stay with the team.

Enter Ryan Anderson from Alabama.

The 6’2″ 253 pound outside linebacker out of Daphne, Alabama, played on one of the most dominant defensive fronts of this era in his time in Tuscaloosa. The red-shirt senior saw both his playing time and stats increase throughout his four years under Nick Saban, and was crafted into being one of the most talented outside linebacker prospects of this draft class.

TacklesDef IntFumbles

What I liked the most about this Arkansas tape (and many others) is that Anderson lined up at various spots throughout the game. You saw him playing both a traditional stand up 3-4 outsider backer as well as a 4-3 outside backer. Not to mention you can notice Anderson both put his hand in the dirt and rush the passer with ease, as well as lineup over center as a blitzing Mike.

Anderson’s relentless drive on each snap are something scouts have taken notice to. His knowledge of the game and instincts really show on game-days and you can almost argue that his play should receive more attention than some of the players around him on that powerful defense.

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com had these notes listed on Anderson’s draft profile.

"“Size is more suited for 4-3 SAM but he could play some rush outside backer in a 3-4. He would fit Baltimore and Pittsburgh as a 3-4 SAM, too.” — NFC area scout"

"Well-schooled with a high football IQ and a history as a winner. His disciplined, assignment-based approach to the game should resonate with defensive coordinators. Lack of length and average athletic traits could put a cap on his draft stock, but he should be a safe pick and a long-time starter as an outside linebacker."

Anderson is a day two product in this year’s draft and teams have already begun their interviewing process, even the Bucs.

It is one thing to interview a player after a pro-day, but it is another thing to individually take them out to eat or bring them in for an exclusive interview/workout at One Buc Place. For someone such as myself who has taken a list of each player the Bucs have met with, two names have been taken out to eat with a member of the Bucs staff so far… Dalvin Cook and Ryan Anderson.

As you may know, last season defensive line coach Jay Hayes dined with Noah Spence and actually ran his pro-day before he was eventually selected by the team in the second round. Will this be a common occurrence?

The Bucs have serious interest in Anderson, and with his selection on day two of the draft would fill a much-needed hole. Anderson’s ceiling is high, and bringing in a player of his quality will pass the idea of Bond as the heir to the throne.

Next: Luke Willson Would Be a Good Signing

An NFL ready pass rusher who is also stout in the run game is something the Bucs have taken appreciation too, is it enough to make them pull the trigger in April?

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