Seahawks Draft: Close look at LB Anderson, QB Young from Bama insider

Mar 1, 2023, 12:10 PM

Seahawks Draft Bryce Young...

Alabama QB Bryce Young throws against Kansas State during the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Dec.. 31, 2022. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

(Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Alabama has been a college football powerhouse for years under head coach Nick Saban, and the Crimson Tide regularly churn out top NFL talent. That will be the case again in 2023, and two of Bama’s best players may be in consideration for the Seahawks in the first round.

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Thanks to their trade with the Broncos last offseason, the Seahawks own Denver’s No. 5 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft in addition to their own selection at 20th overall. Alabama, meanwhile, has two players who are seen as likely top-five picks in linebacker/edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. and quarterback Bryce Young.

It’s easy to see why Anderson, a two-time unanimous All-American selection, would be in consideration for a Seahawks defense that needs help up front after having just two players record more than four sacks.

As for Young, both Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday that even if they do re-sign quarterback Geno Smith, drafting a QB at fifth overall is on the table. If that’s the case, Young is one of the top quarterbacks in this draft class as well as the Heisman Trophy winner in 2021, so he would seem to be in play for the Seahawks.

What do we need to know about Anderson and Young? Who better to help break those two down than former Alabama linebacker and current Crimson Tide sideline reporter Christian Miller, who joined Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Tuesday.

Starting with Anderson, Miller stressed that the star defender is a great person with an extremely high work ethic. And while he’s a good guy off the field, he’s a force when he’s playing defense.

“On the field, you look at him, I mean, the tape tells itself,” Miller said. “You look at him, he’s a hard-nosed, physical football player, a real old school type of player that you don’t see as much anymore. A lot of guys like to be finesse nowadays. This guy does not run away from contact, he puts his nose in everything. He’s got that perfect blend of size and speed …  He’s strong but fast, he’s athletic enough to bend the edge, he’s stout and disruptive against the run, he can run all the stunts needed to run, but he can do a good job setting the edge on blocks and being physical.”

Anderson tallied 27.5 sacks over the last two seasons against tough SEC competition, yet Miller says he’s only scratching the surface of what he can do as a pass rusher.

“I know that might sound crazy because you look at the numbers that he puts up, but if you watch his technique – and he’ll be the first one to tell you – he’s still learning the art of pass rush,” he said. “He still has a number of moves that he can add to his pass-rush arsenal – some more counter moves, setting it up better … Whoever drafts this guy is getting a guy who not only has the potential to grow but he wants to grow. He wants to be the best that he can be. I mean, he eats, sleeps and breathes football. That’s all he cares about … He’s in the weight room, he’s watching film. He loves the game. He’s a great leader. And whoever drafts him is getting a very special guy.”

On the other side of the ball, Young has been one of the best quarterbacks in the country the last two years, and he’s typically seen as one of the first two quarterbacks off the board in mock drafts if not the first. Rightfully so, says Miller.

“Anybody that’s watching Bryce can tell that he’s just impressive. He’s so talented,” Miller said. “But when you break him down, guys, you look at him, what stands out is his extreme poise and confidence. He’s just so calm, cool and collected back there … And you just watch him throw the ball is effortless. He’s got that pinpoint accuracy. This guy’s a student of the game.”

Miller said that on Sundays – which are typically more mellow days that involve stretching and a light workout the day after a game – Young breaks down game film and gives input to the coaching staff, which would take that into consideration.

“That to me is a testament of how trusted he is and how much of a student of the game he is. And then you just watch him and he’s like a magician out there. He eludes pressure, he improvises as good as anyone. He makes things happen out of thin air,” Miller said.

Young has shown he can be an elite college quarterback, but his size is a question. He was listed at 6-feet tall and 194 pounds, but it’s believed Young is closer to 5-10.

Shorter quarterbacks have been successful in the NFL, including Russell Wilson during his decade with the Seahawks, and some recently have even been drafted No. 1 overall (Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray). But those three are all a bit more built than Young, who Miller said is “a little more on the thin side in terms of his frame.”

“But here’s the thing – you can’t add height, but you can add weight,” Miller said. ” … He’s still going to grow and develop. You put a little bit of weight on him, that’s not going to be a concern.”

And Miller isn’t concerned about Young’s size at the NFL level.

“To anybody concerned about his size, I’ll say this: He did it at the highest level in the SEC, he won a Heisman at that height and weight, he’s been to a national championship at the height and weight, and really the only injury he’s seen was that shoulder injury – that AC joint – and look how fast he came back from that and played at a high level after that, and was still durable, taking big hits, taking shots on that shoulder and playing through it in the SEC, which is known to be fast and physical and with top talent,” he said. “So I can’t say enough about Bryce Young. I think he’s going to have a phenomenal NFL career and whoever gets him is going to get a great leader and a great playmaker on offense.”

Any questions about Young’s body holding up can be answered by watching his Alabama tape, Miller said.

“He’s done it at a high level, and he’s been healthy doing it. So I just don’t think it’s that critical in terms of him being that height,” he said. “I know we would love it if you were 6-3 or 6-4 and 200-plus pounds, but the fact of the matter is he’s not. But does that make him any less of a football player? Absolutely not. I think he’ll be just fine at the next level.”

Listen to the full conversation with Miller in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

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Seahawks Draft: Close look at LB Anderson, QB Young from Bama insider