Utah edge Bradlee Anae sees draft stock soar after dominant Senior Bowl performance

2020 NFL draft edge Pac-12
Bradlee Anae

If you’ve been paying attention to the latest Fanspeak-Steve big board, then you might have noticed a few changes in the player rankings.

The player who made the biggest jump? Utah edge Bradlee Anae, who went from being ranked No. 99 overall on Jan. 22 to his current position at No. 37, which would make him a fringe first-rounder.

The reason for the big jump is simple: Anae’s dominant performance at the Senior Bowl.

The 6-foot-3, 257 pound senior terrorized South offensive linemen en route to picking up 3 sacks and 5 pressures. In fact, one of the South team’s interceptions (by Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts) can be directly attributed to Anae’s pressure on the quarterback.

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Simply put, Anae was a menace – and it may serve as a huge boost to his draft stock. Pro Football Focus gave the senior a pass rush grade of 89.4, the second-highest single grade for the game. That’s right in line with his season grade from PFF of 90.5.

Anae finished the 2019 season with 41 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 13 sacks and 62 pressures. His sack total was tied for seventh-most in the nation; his pressures were tied for the fourth-most.

“Thanks to his advanced understanding of pass rush techniques, as well as his motor and instincts, Utah’s all-time career sack leader added a few more sacks to his pass rush resume,” writes Steve Bartle of 24/7’s Ute Zone.

Detroit coaches, who coached Anae’s North team, came away impressed.

“He did a great job,” said Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia, via Chase Goodbread of NFL.com. “He’s really improved. We’ve gone over a lot of things with him from a pass rush standpoint, from a technique standpoint, and he tried to take all that (to the game). He’s got a great gift, a great ability to rush the edge.”

The issue with Anae isn’t his production – he has 30 career sacks and 41.5 career pressures. The issue with draft analysts is his speed off the edge and repertoire of pass rush moves. But don’t confuse “speed off the edge” with “first-step quickness,” something Anae has in spades.

“Between his snap anticipation and initial quickness, Anae is able to gain an advantage from the get-go,” writes Dane Brugler of The Athletic in a Nov. 21 report.  “His head start lets him win the corner with power, not allowing blockers to push his momentum away from the pocket.”

However, Brugler points out areas of Anae’s game that could use improvement: he’s not a particularly creative pass rusher and can be a bit predictable, and he’s been prone to offside penalties.

With that said, there’s still a lot to like – and finding quality pass rushers is high priority for all teams.

“Anae is an absolute technician off the edge who has given some of the Pac-12’s best tackles – USC’s Austin Jackson and Washington’s Trey Adams – fits this year,” writes Michael Renner of PFF. “Only Ohio State’s Chase Young and Michigan’s Josh Uche have higher pass-rushing grades than Anae’s 90.5 this season.”

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