Over the last month or so, we've been breaking down all of the Jets' offseason additions in detail. Today we move on to look at defensive lineman Henry Anderson, whom the Jets acquired for a seventh round pick on day three of the draft.
The 26-year old Anderson is listed at 6-foot-6 and 301 pounds and was a third round pick out of Stanford in 2015. He's recorded 65 tackles, three sacks and four passes defensed in three seasons with the Colts, but has been limited to just 19 starts due to injury issues.
Anderson was a productive defensive end in high school, as well as playing basketball and competing in shot put and discus. He also ran with the 4 x 400 relay team.
He was recruited to Stanford, first seeing action as a reserve in 2011, where he recorded six tackles and returned a fumble 37 yards to the goal line. His role increased and he had 50 tackles and 5.5 sacks as a starter in 2012.
In 2013, Anderson missed six games with a knee injury but still racked up 19 tackles and three sacks. 2014 was a breakout year for him, as he racked up 65 tackles and 8.5 sacks as a fifth year senior.
After taking part in the Senior Bowl and attending the combine, Anderson established himself as a possible day two pick and was eventually selected in the third round by the Colts.
He won a starting role as a rookie and was making a nice impact with 31 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble, but suffered a season-ending injury in November. He struggled to get back to 100 percent in his second season, starting just two games and recording 12 tackles. Last year, he started eight games and had 22 tackles and a career-high two sacks but again saw his season end prematurely due to injury.
The Colts are moving to a 4-3 system in 2018 and Anderson is not viewed as an ideal fit, so they moved him to the Jets for a seventh round pick on day three of the draft.
Let's take a closer look at what Anderson brings to the table, divided into categories.
As you can see, Anderson has decent size and excellent athletic numbers:
He didn't do the bench press at the combine due to a pectoral injury, managing 23 reps at his pro day. He perhaps lacks power and flexibility.
Anderson is best-suited to a 3-4 defensive end role, although he had reportedly shed some weight in order to be able to play as a 4-3 end in the Colts' new system.
With the Colts, he has occasionally lined up outside the tackle box to rush the passer off the edge. In 2017, he did that on over 100 snaps. He hasn't been employed as a nose tackle very often.
Anderson is regarded as a high-effort player who works hard in the trenches, plays to the whistle and chases plays down. He will sometimes lose leverage battles as he tires, but is used to playing a large number of snaps. He averaged over 50 snaps a game as a rookie and played over 50 snaps twice last year.
Here's an example of Anderson (#96) working hard to drive his man back and force the runner to take a wider path around the edge, then disengaging and chasing back to get in on the tackle:
Anderson has been an effective run defender since entering the league especially in his rookie year, where he had the 6th best run defense grade for a rookie since 2006, according to Pro Football Focus, and had the 12th best run stop percentage of any defensive end.
He holds up well at the point of attack and has strong hands and an ability to shed blocks. He is good at gaining a leverage advantage to get his body in the path of the ball carrier but is more likely to stand his man up than drive him into the backfield.
He also displays some quickness to be able to shoot gaps into the backfield:
Since he gives such a good effort, it's not easy to block Anderson out of a play, but on this play he gets sealed on the edge and blocked to the ground by a double team:
Although he only has three sacks in three seasons, Anderson has the potential to be much more productive as a pass rusher. He's been in the top 25 for pass rush productivity by 3-4 ends in each of his three seasons (per PFF) and had his best numbers so far for sacks (two) and hits (five) in his nine games last year.
In his final year of college he was among the nation's leaders in terms of total pressure created.
Here he displays an ability to get to the quarterback on an interior bull rush here:
On this play, he uses his hands to get his blocker off him and has enough quickness to get upfield on him to finish on a strip sack:
When he lined up outside, Anderson had a handful of pressures around the edge, although most of these were against weak tackles like Germain Ifedi and Breno Giacomini. He also creates pressure through sheer effort cleaning up.
When Anderson's pad level is good, he anchors himself well and he is effective at leveraging himself into the path of the ball carrier or fighting his way off blocks.
As noted, his pad level can be inconsistent when he tires and he can allow an offensive lineman's initial punch to rock him off his spot.
As a pass rusher, Anderson usually produces through effort and by exploiting leverage, strength or quickness advantages. In terms of pass rush moves or counters, he doesn't show much, although he executes an arm over/rip move well to create pressure here:
Anderson has been a productive tackler and uses his long arms well to snag and wrap up ball carriers. He also bottles up a lot of runs. He does well here to trip the runner in the open field:
Anderson hasn't had many missed tackles in his career and where he has they haven't generally led to any big plays. Here was one where he missed the tackle in the backfield but his teammates were able to clean up after him:
Anderson has hardly ever dropped into coverage but can still contribute to the pass defense with his hustle in pursuit as he does here:
He's also adept at batting down passes, which he's done four times at the NFL level. He had five pass break-ups in 2012 and six pass defensed in high school in 2009. Here's a couple from a few years ago:
One thing Anderson does well is to extend and lock out his arms when engaging his blocker in the trenches. This enables him to see the play and he's good at leveraging into the ball carrier's path or shedding the block as needed. Here's an example of that:
This is something Anderson can pass on to the Jets' rookies, especially Foley Fatukasi, who we observed will sometimes be too preoccupied with winning his matchup to react to the play unfolding.
Anderson jumped offside once in his first three seasons but otherwise doesn't seem to miss many assignments.
At Stanford, Anderson earned multiple academic honors.
You wouldn't expect many special teams contributions from a player like Anderson, even if he didn't have an history of injuries. However, he's shown an ability to block kicks, with one in the NFL and one in his final season at Stanford.
Here was the one from the NFL game:
Anderson is regarded as a tough, hard-nosed player with a team-first attitude. He is said to play with passion.
He's had three personal fouls in his career. One was for unnecessary roughness and the other two for roughing the passer.
Anderson has been plagued by injuries since coming into the NFL. He tore his ACL in 2015 and fractured his larynx last year to end up on injured reserve. 2016 was the only year when he didn't end up on injured reserve but he still missed four games with a knee injury that was unconnected to his ACL tear and limited him all year.
He missed six games in 2013 with an MCL injury and also had a foot issue in 2015.
Anderson has already been splitting first-team reps with Nathan Shepherd, presumably in Muhammad Wilkerson's old role which he would seem best suited for.
Todd Bowles has already said that the Jets intend to rotate several linemen this year, to keep everyone fresh.
Josh Martin spent time on the Colts practice squad during Anderson's rookie year in Indianapolis.
Getting Anderson has flown under the radar somewhat but was potentially a really big move.
The team doesn't have an obvious third starter to go with Leonard Williams and Steve McLendon on the defensive line, but Anderson has experience and has performed well with the Colts.
His best season was his rookie year, though, begging the question as to whether he'll ever get back to that level again following his ACL tear. However, he has been sidetracked by other injuries since that time, so if he could get an extended spell of being healthy, perhaps he will perform at that level again. Even if he's just as good as he's been over the past couple of years, that's still pretty solid.
All in all, it's a low risk move for the Jets, who have some young defensive linemen coming through the system who will benefit from Anderson playing ahead of them, both in terms of not being forced into action too early and in terms of learning the ropes from him. If Anderson, who himself is only 26, does well this year, then the Jets will have the inside track on bringing him back and keeping him around.