Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. had a fantastic showing at the 2023 NFL Combine, confirming his status as arguably the best non-quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Anderson posted an official 4.60 40-yard dash and drew comparisons to former Chicago Bears star pass-rusher Khalil Mack.
Anderson checked in taller, heavier, longer, and faster than Mack, whose reputation as one of the NFL’s most-feared pass-rushers is well deserved. It’s a player comp that fits like a glove.
Anderson did more than just run a fast 40-yard dash. He looked good in positional drills too.
With Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter’s pending legal issues clouding his immediate future, Anderson’s showing at the Combine may have been enough to push him firmly ahead in the race to be the No. 1 pick, assuming the Chicago Bears don’t trade out.
Will Anderson’s performance, which only adds to his ridiculously good tape, may have enticed GM Ryan Poles to keep the pick. Rare pass rushers and culture elevators don’t come along often; Anderson is both.
Anderson finished his collegiate career with 34.5 sacks. The Bears finished last in the NFL in 2022 in that category. Need? Meet value.
Indeed, it’s true that the Bears need more than just one great player. They need to build a roster of good players before that one great player pushes them over the top. But sometimes, great players are gifted to teams. Chicago didn’t really deserve the No. 1 overall pick. Former coach Lovie Smith and the Houston Texans bequeathed it to them in the final minutes of Week 18.
Perhaps the best course of action is to take the superstar and not look back. Will Anderson Jr. performed like one at the NFL Combine, and while it’s true that recency bias can run wild — fans and scouts can get intoxicated with the immediate aftermath of a strong workout — the Bears have to at least hit the pause button on trading down from the first pick.
Anderson is so much more than just one workout. He’s been the best college football player in the country over the last two years.
Sure, when the NFL Combine wraps up, and the dust settles on all of the impressive workouts that will take place this week, logic and sound strategy will prevail. That sound strategy for the Chicago Bears seems to be trading down and extending the impact of the No. 1 pick into future drafts.
But would it be the worst thing in the world if Ryan Poles settles on Will Anderson Jr. as the best option for the Bears? Probably not. Especially not after what he did at the 2023 NFL Combine.
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