Will Anderson Jr., top pass rush prospects mimic NFL greats, eye top spot

Alabama pass rusher Will Anderson Jr. speaks to reporters at the 2023 NFL scouting combine Wednesday at the Indianapolis Convention Center in Indianapolis. Photo by Alex Butler/UPI
1 of 5 | Alabama pass rusher Will Anderson Jr. speaks to reporters at the 2023 NFL scouting combine Wednesday at the Indianapolis Convention Center in Indianapolis. Photo by Alex Butler/UPI

INDIANAPOLIS, March 1 (UPI) -- Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. and several other top pass rushers say they model their games after today's NFL stars. They each will now pursue consideration to be the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

"It would mean a lot [to be No. 1]," Anderson told reporters Wednesday at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. "It just shows all the hard work, sacrifices and blood, sweat and tears to get to this moment are paying off.


"Just to have that spot is big time. I'm really appreciative to have the opportunity."

Anderson, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young and Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter were among the players many experts expect to be in consideration for the top pick this off-season.

An arrest warrant was issued Wednesday morning for Carter, putting chances in jeopardy.

Anderson has drawn comparisons to Hall of Fame pass rushers DeMarcus Ware and Derrick Thomas and All-Pros Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Myles Garrett.


The 6-foot-4, 235-pound defender said he also watches footage of San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa for tips on how to get to the quarterback.

The two-time All-American and national defensive player of the year totaled 48 tackles for a loss and 27.5 sacks over his final two seasons at Alabama. Anderson said he plans to participate in most drills at the NFL combine.

He already met with seven NFL teams this off-season.

The Chicago Bears have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, but are interested in trading that pick away. A quarterback-needy team could opt to exchange draft capital and/or players for the Bears' top pick.

The Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts and Las Vegas Raiders are among the teams with Top 10 picks who also need quarterbacks.

The Bears, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles are among teams in the Top 10 who could opt to snag an elite pass rusher or interior defensive game wrecker.


Texas Tech linebacker Tyree Wilson is one of those targeted pass rushers.

"He is a phenomenal athlete," Anderson said of Wilson. "He is big, moves really well and can bend really well.

Wilson also is a Top 10 pick in many mock drafts, including in my initial edition.

"At the end of the day, it's a projection," Wilson said of his expected draft slot. "I still have to put the work into the draft."

The 6-foot-6, 275-pound pass rusher drew comparisons to Pro Bowlers Ziggy Ansah and Carlos Dunlap throughout the draft process.

He said he models his game after J.J. Watt, Myles Garrett and Von Miller.

Wilson underwent foot surgery in November, but said he is now "really close to 100%" healthy. He will not participate in drills at the combine, but plans to be at Texas Tech's pro day and to host a private workout before the draft.

Wilson said he met with the Bears twice so far. He also met with the Raiders and Seattle Seahawks and planned to meet Wednesday with the New England Patriots.

"I'm a great worker and I'm passionate about football," Wilson said. "I will take [an] organization to another level."


Wilson totaled 27.5 tackles for a loss and 14 sacks over the last two seasons. Clemson's Myles Murphy and Bryan Bresee are among other defenders who could sneak into the Top 5 of the 2023 NFL Draft order.

Murphy, a 6-foot-5, 275-pound defensive end, totaled 25.5 tackles for a loss and 14.5 sacks over his final two seasons with the Tigers. He has drawn comparisons to Ziggy Ansah, Trayvon Walker, Bradley Chubb and Antwan Odom, among others.

"I'm a guy who brings that speed aspect and that power aspect and can collapse the entire side of the pocket," Murphy said.

Bresee, a 6-foot-5, 305-pound defensive tackle, totaled 15 tackles for a loss and nine sacks in 25 career games for the Tigers. He also was a reason why the Tigers owned one of the nation's top rush defenses over the last several seasons.

He has drawn comparisons to Ndamukong Suh and Grover Stewart and is more touted as a run stopper and interior defender than as a dominant, exterior pass rusher.

Defensive linemen and linebackers are scheduled to work out for scouts Thursday in Indianapolis. Coverage will air at 3 p.m. EST on NFL Network.


"I'm excited about all the edge rushers in this class," Will Anderson said. "This is what we dreamed of as kids and we are getting the opportunity to go out there and make our dreams come true."

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