The Giants made a solid effort to build up their outside linebacker corps in both free agency and the draft. So where does outside linebacker Ryan Anderson, a five-year veteran and former second-round draft pick by the Washington Football Team, fit into the equation?
Anderson played his college ball for Nick Saban at Alabama. Drafted in 2017, the 6’2”, 255-pounder out of Alabama has appeared in 52 career games (just four starts) and has recorded just six sacks among his 55 total tackles, hardly the kind of impact one might expect from a top-100 pick and a second-rounder.
Anderson has had some injury issues, most recently a knee injury that limited him to just nine games last year.
Between his struggles to stay healthy and the depth ahead of him on that Washington front seven, the best Anderson was able to do was log 49% of the defensive snaps in 2019.
That season also happened to be his best season statistically speaking, in which he not only made it through the entire year, he also recorded career highs in tackles (44), forced fumbles (4), and sacks (4.0).
What He Brings
So what did the Giants like about Anderson, other than his college pedigree? A few things come to mind. First is his ability to force fumbles—he has five career forced fumbles.
He’s also a solid tackler, having missed just five total tackles in 1,063 defensive snaps, and does a good enough job in setting the edge against the run, where he’s recorded 37 career snaps in limited action.
Anderson’s production and traits strongly indicate he’s a two-down linebacker who can be a situational pass rusher.
Anderson signed a veteran salary benefit deal with the Giants, which included a $137,500 signing bonus. If he doesn’t make the 53-man roster, he’ll count for $137,500 in dead money against this year’s cap. Otherwise, he'll count for $850,000 against the 2021 cap.
The Giants made a strong effort to build up their outside linebacker corps, adding Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari in the draft. They also added draftee Elerson Smith and free-agent Ifeadi Odenigbo, both of whom were defensive ends with their previous teams, both of whom may see some snaps from the two-point stance in defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s defense.
They’re expecting Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter back from their respective season-ending injuries as well, and they can also get some edge-rushing snaps from second-year man Carter Coughlin.
Former Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi always used to say you can never have too many pass rushers on the team. Indeed, the injury issues the Giants had last year might give them pause when it comes to determining how many they’re going to keep at this position.
But there are only so many spots available on the 53-man roster. If you’re the Giants, a team looking to become an annual participant in the playoffs, you will probably want to roll with the youth movement and tuck a veteran like Anderson as a practice squad.