Arguably one of the best defensive underclassmen in this draft class, defensive end Jamaal Anderson should be one of the first picks in the 2007 NFL Draft. That's what happens when you measure in at 6-foot-6, 288 pounds, and you run the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds. When you factor in the demand for quality pass rushers in the National Football League, it's easy to see why it won't take long for Anderson to hear his name called in April.
Anderson grew up in Little Rock, Ark., and made his bones at Parkview High School. Over his career, he put up 85 catches for 1,620 yards and 13 touchdowns, making him the 11th ranked player in the state (SuperPrep). The gridiron wasn't his only area of success, however, as Anderson also excelled in school and on the hardwood, where he was nominated to play in the McDonald's All-American game. Despite being recruited by other football powerhouses such as the University of Alabama, the University of Florida and Ole Miss, Anderson chose to stay close to home by joining the Razorbacks in 2004.
As a true freshman that year, Anderson played in all 11 contests for Arkansas. He put up 12 tackles that season, with two coming behind the line of scrimmage, adding two quarterback hurries and a pass deflection. Anderson also made an impact on special teams that season as he blocked his first punt against Louisiana-Monroe.
Anderson spent the majority of the 2005 season as a reserve but received his chance to start late in the season when starter Anthony Brown went down to an injury. The extra playing time paid dividends for Anderson, who finished the campaign with 47 tackles and four sacks. He also added 10.5 tackles for loss and seven quarterback hurries, which locked up a starting gig for the 2006 season.
Last fall with the Razorbacks, Anderson propelled himself into the top half of Round 1 with his dynamite performance. This season, he racked up a career-high 13.5 sacks while also accruing 65 tackles (19.5 for loss).
At his size, Anderson definitely has the look to be a star left end at the pro level. He has huge arms, which make him look even bigger to opposing passers, and undoubtedly has the frame to add more weight.
Anderson's size and speed combination makes him a versatile player, due to the fact that he can play end easily in a 4-3 defense or in a 3-4. Anderson is a strong enough to bull rush opposing blockers but has enough finesse moves in his arsenal to always keep his man guessing.
Anderson has also shown good closing speed and exhibits a burst when chasing down ball carriers; he is a stout run defender as well. What may be the best part about him is that he still has room to grow as a player and has plenty of upside. His ceiling is as high as anyone else is in this draft class.
One of the biggest knocks against Anderson is his experience. He took on a starting job late in his sophomore season and never gave it up, but some are of the opinion he may have been better off staying in school for another year to refine his technique.
While his height certainly helps him wreak havoc in the passing lanes, Anderson could do a better job getting underneath the pads of blockers in getting better leverage.
The last thing to take into account is that the position Anderson plays is one that has put out its share of "busts" over the past few years. Can Anderson develop into a perennial All-Star? That is the question scouts and coaches will have to ask themselves come draft day, because that is what you expect out of a player who is taken that high in the draft.
There's no question that Anderson is going to be taken early. Some teams may decide to pass on him, but others may see him as a better player than Clemson's Gaines Adams (his main competition at the position). As anyone who follows the draft will tell you, it only takes one member of a front office from a team to like you for you to be drafted.
Where will Anderson end up going? That is anyone's guess at this point, but it would be surprising to see him fall to the middle of the first round. However, he could potentially go as high as No. 6 to the Washington Redskins. The most likely scenario, though, has to be at pick No. 7 with the Minnesota Vikings. Another option if the Vikings decide to pass on Anderson would be the Atlanta Falcons with the No. 8 pick. With the departure of defensive end Patrick Kerney (Seattle Seahawks) and the injury problems from defensive end John Abraham, Anderson starts right away on the left side of that solid defensive front in Atlanta.
About Francis Duffy
"Fran Duffy has been involved in sports since he was a child. A Philadelphia native, Fran is obviously a die-hard fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Flyers and Sixers. Fran is desperately waiting to see his first major championship from one of his hometown teams. He is a Broadcasting major at Temple University and has experience on the radio as well as in television production. Fran also currently works with Temple football's video-operation's team and is an avid fantasy sports player. Looking for more experience in writing, Fran joined KFFL in the spring of 2005."
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