Rodney Anderson 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profile Scouting Report
There is no such thing as a perfect running back prospect. That much should be clear after we have analyzed all of the 2019 running back class. Rodney Anderson, despite all of his injuries, is really no different than Miles Sanders (one year of production) or Josh Jacobs (no production) or pick-your-favorite running back prospect. Anderson was the consensus top running back prospect coming into the 2018 NCAA college football season but tore his ACL on his 11th carry of what would be his final season at Oklahoma. Unfortunately, that is not the only injury Anderson had at Oklahoma. He broke his leg in 2015 and did not play at all in 2016 due to a severe neck injury. These are red flags; there is no way around it. Whatever you think of Anderson’s “talent”, his body has heavy mileage on it.
Rodney Anderson had only one season of production at Oklahoma. He was the lead running back for the Sooners in 2017 while Baker Mayfield was leading one of the best offenses in college football history. Anderson had 1,442 total yards from scrimmage for an average of seven yards per touch and added 18 touchdowns. He finished second in the Big 12 in rushing and lead the conference in yards per carry. Unfortunately, that is where the statistical analysis of Anderson ends. Leading the Sooners in touches and touchdowns (nine more touchdowns than anyone else on the team) is a positive indicator for sure. Starting his career in the NFL at 23 is fairly negative in terms of dropping him in prospect buckets. The older a prospect is, the less likely their future success for dynasty fantasy football purposes.
There is definitely some of the Josh Jacobs-esque “LOOK AT HIS HIPS!!!!” stuff going on with Rodney Anderson. From a production and risk profile, it is impossible to rank him as one of the best five running backs in this class. Does his film look great? Absolutely. He actually runs pass routes pretty well and showed an ability at Oklahoma to function as a useful pass catcher which is one of the most important things a modern running back can do. He shows good balance and is relatively agile/shift for a running back who weighs 220 pounds.
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Lance Zierlein wrote about Anderson “”Anderson has good size and instincts as an interior runner, but he lacks the juice to be a dynamic runner and might be forced to earn his living as a downhill hammer with the ability to leak out on swing passes.” If Zierlein’s analysis is correct, a team choosing to take Anderson even on Day Two of the NFL Draft would not be optimal. I sort of disagree with the assessment in the sense that I think that Anderson DID have the juice at Oklahoma. The question is does he still have that juice after sustaining multiple injuries and turning 23 years old before recording an NFL carry.
The talent evaluators at The Draft Network are relatively high on Anderson and I agree with their assessment about his plus balance. However, they overall share my concern of a team jumping too high to jump a player with so many risks. In terms of probablistic thinking, it just does not sense to take on the lack of production risk, injury risk and age risk at a high cost because of one very good (but not transcendent) college football season.
Rodney Anderson Final Verdict
If Rodney Anderson is able to undergo some athletic testing before the draft in April, there is a decent chance that he moves up my rookie running back rankings. I confess to liking him as a player when I watch but I know that my eyes lie and that “traits” are not falsifiable. If Anderson had duplicated his 2017 season in 2018 without a knee injury, there is a pretty good chance that he would be the #1 running back in this class but that didn’t happen. Using the information that we have now, he can be considered a talented flyer for an NFL team that already has an established running back in place. It is unlikely than an NFL team would select Rodney Anderson to be a lead back for 2019 and he should be treated that way in dynasty fantasy football as well.
2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profiles: