The NFL Draft begins tomorrow. With the success Navy has had on the field over the last few seasons it makes sense that more Mids are considered as worthy of drafting compared to seasons past. This is even more likely given that NFL squads saw how Joe Cardona was able to be drafted by and sign for the New England Patriots last spring. So far we have looked at the draft prospects of quarterback Keenan Reynolds and running back Chris Swain. Today is it the turn of a raw but talented defensive end who has been rising since this process began.
PRO DAY RESULTS
40-yard dash: 4.96 seconds
Vertical: 31 inches
Broad jump: 8 feet 10 inches
Bench: 22 reps of 225 pounds
Before the start of the 2015 season it was hard to see any Mid other than Keenan Reynolds getting draft attention. Will Anthony though forced his way into the NFL picture by playing every down like it was the last he would ever take part in. That motor saw Anthony be involved in 62 tackles and 2.5 sacks as a junior. During his senior campaign, Anthony saw his tackle number go down by one (61), but his sack numbers tripled to 7.5. This jump suggests an improved knowledge of the game and an increase set of moves to beat an offensive tackle at the point of attack.
Pro Football Focus has become one of the most renowned sites out there when it comes to evaluating players and their staff loves Anthony. They note how Anthony is a monster in the run game, despite being undersized for the 3-4 end spot he played at Navy. Other strengths include Anthony committing only one penalty in two seasons, his ability to play every down and improve as the game goes on instead of wearing down, and that he plays bigger than his size.
Under the weaknesses section the same site looks at the fact that he is still too small to play as a 3-4 defender at the NFL and as such Anthony will have to make his name either as a 4-3 end or as a 3-4 linebacker. This is then expanded on by pointing out that despite his high motor Anthony is not what you would call an explosive player off of the edge, something that would severely limit his chances of making it in the NFL as a hybrid linebacker type of player. Also the military commitments are noted as a reasonable concern.
On reading that you would expect Anthony to be nothing more than an end of round seven type selection where teams are taking a flyer on upside. This may end up being what happens with Anthony, but at least a couple of draft prognosticators see things a little differently. The Washington Post has a seven round mock on their site that has Anthony going to the defending Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos in the third round (94 overall). In addition a mock on the Miami Dolphins scout.com page suggests Anthony would be a player the Florida team looks at in round four (107 overall).
What that suggests is that even in the majority of the teams in the NFL have missed Anthony as a prospect, there are a couple that have their eye on him. As a player with interesting upside and a known presence against the run it will be very interesting to see what happens to the Navy defensive end over the weekend.