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The defensive lineman the Chargers need to invest in this draft

Going through some combine workout warriors to see if they are actually good at football, starting with a Stanford defensive lineman

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Every year there are a handful of athletes who rise up "draft boards" after putting on great performances at the combine. There was no shortage of these performances this year, and I'd like to take a closer look at some of those players. Today I'll start with Stanford defensive lineman Henry Anderson, who per mock draftable, put on a show over the weekend. Here's a look at his spider graph.


Image via

Anderson had the same 10 yard split as Melvin Gordon, a faster short shuttle than Justin Hardy, and a faster 3 cone than Landon Collins. When you account for density, what he did is nothing short of amazing. On one hand, there are some very interesting studies with numbers that have proven there are specific thresholds players in the front 7 must pass in order to be successful at the next level. On the other hand, if you can't play, does any of this really matter? Like most things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. So, can Anderson play? The below chart is a look at Anderson's production compared to some of the other top defenders in the draft who line up along the front 4.

Player Games Win vs Run Stop Win vs Pass QB Hit Sack
Anderson 5 18 20 17 6 5
Leonard Williams 4 17 11 17 7 3
Dante Fowler 5 13 9 19 12 3
Owamagbe Odighizuwa 5 10 12 12 4 5
Bud Dupree 4 4 10 15 4 3
Shane Ray 4 4 7 15 5 8
Randy Gregory 5 9 3 12 4 3
Malcom Brown 4 14 11 13 3 4

If this is your 1st time reading, a "win" is as simple as it sounds. Beating your man. That's what I'm looking for. Players will have unblocked QB hits or sacks, but a "win" tells the story on how truly productive a player is. Obviously, Anderson doesn't receive the same attention as some of these players, but he also does his fair share of 2-gapping versus double teams. The chart shows that Anderson is far more than a "workout warrior."

Winning from everywhere

Anderson's "best" position in the NFL will be at the 5 technique, or a 3-4 defensive end lined up on the outside shoulder of the offensive tackle. From this position, Anderson has the strength to hold up at the point of attack against the run. What makes him such a good prospect is that he can stack and shed the offensive tackle as well. Anderson is a finisher. From the 5 technique, he also showed a repertoire of moves. Anderson won by converting speed to power, with an arm over, a rip move, as well as a club-rip move. Anderson also showed he can turn his leverage into power as well as making several plays down the line of scrimmage in the 5 games I watched.

On passing downs, most 3-4 defenses turn into a 2-4-5 and both defensive ends are now defensive tackles. Anderson is comfortable playing both. He has the same array of moves when he kicks inside but Anderson is too quick for interior lineman to handle. He's consistently the 1st person off the snap and that's why you see him listed in the chart above for so many "stops." He had 10 tackles for loss in the 5 games, and missed 3-4 more opportunities in the backfield.

When Anderson is under control, you can really see how effective he is as a player. He has the strength that can jolt offensive lineman back with ease. Combine that, with his hand usage and ability to finish, and that's why he's an every down player.

I've showed you Anderson winning from outside of the tackle, and lined up over the guards, well he's shown he can be fine, in a pinch, lining up over the center as well. This is another position where you can see Anderson's strength. On double teams, he will fight and fight to hold his position at the point of attack, sometimes even losing initial ground, but will end up re anchoring and shedding to finish the play. The vine below will show just how much quicker he is than the center.

We often mistake versatility with being able to line up in multiple positions, but behind able to play to the same level as a players best position. Anderson can line up, and win, from anywhere on the line of scrimmage. There's real value with him.

Staying on your feet

If Anderson's "trump card" is his versatility and hand usage, the reason he won't be successful if because he's on the ground too much. There were times where he would fire off the ball wildly and end up on the ground, or trying to fend off a double team by winning with leverage, he would get so low that he would lose balance and end up on the ground. Anderson plays with good pad level, but his balance is questionable. On the move, for example coming off of a stunt, he would pop straight up, leave himself susceptible to offensive lineman, and they'd be able to cause him to lose his footing. Aside from poor balance, Anderson isn't a "true edge rusher", so expecting him to win with speed from the outside isn't putting him in a situation to win.

How High Do you take him?

Multiple Pro Bowl Player, Top 10 8.5 – 9.0
Highly Productive Starter, 1st Round 8.0 – 8.4
Very Good Starter, Early 2nd Round 7.8 – 7.9
Reliable Starter, 2nd Round 7.5 – 7.7
Potential Starter in Year 2, 3rd Round 7.0 – 7.4
Backup/Spot Starter, 4th Round 6.5 – 6.9
Productive Backup, 5th Round 6.0 – 6.4
Very Good Backup/STs, 6th Round 5.5 – 5.9
Quality Backup/Good STs, 7th Round 5.0 – 5.4
Backup/STs/Project Player, 7th Round 4.5 – 4.9
Priority Free Agent w/ Limitations 4.0 – 4.4
Non-Draftable 4.0

Trait Weight Grade
Hand Usage 4 3.8
Run Defense 3 2.8
Speed Rush 3 2.3
Power Rush 3 2.6
Strength 2 1.7
Athleticism 2 1.7
First Step 2 1.6
Tackling 2 1.7
Versatility 2 2
Motor 2 1.8

In a vacuum, Anderson is an early 2nd round talent at 7.92, and in this draft specifically, he is a top 30 player. Anderson isn't a workout warrior. He's a good football player who just happened to test well. He's expected to go in the 3rd or 4th rounds. A year from now when you see people doing their re-draft articles, Anderson will be one of the top 15 names you see, he's capable of being that valuable to a team that early in his career.

How He Fits as a Charger

Anderson would give the Chargers a starting defensive end in their base defense, and an interior pass rush who could pair and compliment Corey Liuget as well. Everything he brings to the table is what the Chargers need on defense and he's not going to cost a premium draft pick to upgrade the position. We know the team is anti-analytics, but Anderson passes the eyeball test as well. If there's 1 defensive lineman the team should invest in this upcoming draft, Anderson is the guy. Toughness, strength, athleticism, versatility, tackle radius, quickness, and pass rush moves. Anderson is a complete player that will get better once he learns to play the game under control.