While Ryan Anderson proved in college that has the skillset needed to be a valuable NFL pass rusher, the 22-year-old needs some time to get his body ready for the professional game.
Washington Redskins linebacker Ryan Anderson was one of 62 Redskins rookies to get their first taste of NFL action last week during the team's rookie minicamp over the weekend at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
The second-round draft pick out of Alabama has hit the ground running, already impressing head coach Jay Gruden with his attitude, maturity and physicality. However, Gruden says the 6-foot-2, 253-pound linebacker must first improve his conditioning, something the head coach is confident will happen in the coming months before his first NFL game.
"He's a big man," Gruden said. "He's got to get in football shape, but I don't think he's far away at all. The type of guy he is, he'll work his tail off and get in shape. All of these guys, they have been off really since the combine. So they are all a little bit behind. Our guys have been in here working, running and lifting. We'll get him in here. Get him in the building and get him to work."
During his final season at Alabama, Anderson made his name as one of the SEC's premier edge rushers recording 61 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, nine sacks, three passes defensed and an interception for a touchdown.
Anderson admits that the NFL game is "a lot faster" than the pace he played at in college after his first few days on the practice field. But luckily, his transition to pro football isn't one he'll have to make alone with former Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen also on the roster, who the Redskins selected with its first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
"It's great [having Jonathan here]," Anderson said. "We pushed each other a lot throughout camps and stuff so it's kind of weird that we end up in the same place and I got my go to dude like that again. It was him and Reuben [Foster] that I had [at Alabama], and we all just pushed each other. Like this morning, he came in and was like, 'What you got for me today?' That goes a long way so I am just glad to have him here. I'm glad to be here. Hopefully we stay here our whole careers."
On Friday, April 28, 2017, the Washington Redskins selected linebacker Ryan Anderson with the 49th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Anderson, one of six defensive players taken by the Redskins in this year's draft, adds valuable depth to the team at linebacker and is expected to contribute early on in his first NFL season.
Veteran linebacker Ryan Kerrigan believes that the outside linebacker core comprised of himself, Anderson, Trent Murphy, Preston Smith and Junior Galette will "definitely" be a position of strength for the Redskins in 2017.
Kerrigan, of course, consistently has been the Redskins' most productive pass rusher since entering the league in 2011. Murphy, meanwhile, recorded a career-high nine sacks in 2016 and the coaches remain confident that Smith will bring more pressure in his third season. As for Galette, he had 22 sacks combined in his last two healthy seasons with the New Orleans Saints before spending the last two years on Injured Reserve.
But having another pass rusher like Anderson, coupled with his college teammate in the trenches, will only help a Redskins defense seeking improvement particularly on third down situations.
"We obviously had our struggles last year defensively, no doubt about it especially on third down," Kerrigan said. "It's good that we are going to add some guys like Allen and Anderson who can get after the passer and hopefully as a result of that we can get off the field a little bit better."