Will Anderson, top defensive player in NFL draft, makes top-30 visit to Detroit Lions

Detroit Free Press

If the Detroit Lions want to draft Will Anderson Jr., they likely will have to trade up to get him. But that is not stopping the team from taking a look at the player considered the best edge rusher in this year’s NFL draft.

The Lions hosted Anderson on a pre-draft visit, KPRC-TV in Houston reported.

Anderson is projected to be the first non-quarterback drafted, potentially as high as No. 2 overall to the Houston Texans. He also visited the Texans, and is considered a possibility for the Arizona Cardinals at No. 3, Indianapolis Colts at No. 4 and Seattle Seahawks at No. 5.

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A favorite of scouts for his talent, production, effort and leadership skills, Anderson had 10 sacks at Alabama last season after recording 17.5 sacks in 2021.

He finished his three-year career with 34.5 sacks, 204 tackles and was a two-time consensus All-American.

“No matter what type of defense I get in I’m going to adapt to it and I’m going to be able to embrace the change,” Anderson said at the NFL combine last month. “Embrace the challenges there and learn lessons that go within, and that’s what I’m really excited about. Whatever defense I get in, learning how to operate throughout it and having fun doing it.”

The Lions took defensive end Aidan Hutchinson with the No. 2 pick of last year’s draft, added defensive lineman Josh Paschal in the second round and landed another edge rusher, linebacker James Houston, in the sixth round last season.

Hutchinson finished runner-up for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, and he (9.5 sacks), Houston (eight), Paschal (two) and Malcolm Rodriguez (one) set an NFL rookie record with 20.5 sacks.

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Still, the Lions would be hard-pressed to pass on a talent like Anderson in this year’s draft, and might even consider trading up for the edge rusher.

He’s considered a much cleaner prospect than disruptive Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter, who also is a candidate to be the first non-quarterback selected, and is much more polished than Texas Tech pass rusher Tyree Wilson, the draft’s No. 2 edge presence.

The Lions are scheduled to host Carter on pre-draft visit this month.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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