Will Anderson Jr. is Giving Off Khalil Mack Vibes and I’m Very Into It

You can’t overstate the Bears’ need to upgrade along the defensive line. Especially after a season in which they came up with the fewest sacks in the league and couldn’t get steady backfield penetration. And even though we’ve been banging the drum for external improvements along the offensive line and at receiver, those D-line needs persist. Perhaps Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. will be part of the Bears’ offseason solution in the trenches.

If you don’t know by now, Will Anderson Jr. is one of the NFL Draft’s top prospects. And not just on the defensive side of the ball either. We’re talking overall. Offense. Defense. Whatever. Anderson is a blue-chipper sitting atop draft boards across the league. I’ll even go a step further. Because the more I think about it, the more I’m willing to consider the Alabama product as someone worth considering taking first overall if the Bears end up holding onto the pick.

Just to illustrate what caliber of playing we’re discussing here.

And drawing a favorable comparison to Khalil Mack will only further fuel my dreams of him as a future member of the Bears moving forward:

Getting comped to Khalil Mack comp (and Myles Garrett) has my interest in Anderson at an all-time high.

Anderson’s résumé is a decorated one:

  • Two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year (2021, 2022)
  • Twice earning unanimous All-American honors (2021, 2022)
  • Three-time All-SEC honors (first-team in 2021 and 2022, second-team in 2020)
  • Nagurski Trophy winner (2021, 2022)
  • Badnarik Award (2022)
  • 34.5 sacks and 58.5 tackles-for-loss in 41 career games
  • Seriously, where do I sign up to get that guy on the Bears?

    For what it’s worth, Anderson seems interested in joining the party.

    In addition to meeting with the Bears, Anderson said some pretty glowing things:

    OK, sure. You’d expect a virtual lock of a top 10 pick to say kind words about a potential future employer. No need to burn bridges during Combine Week. But spot the lie. I dare you. Anderson knows what’s up. It doesn’t take a football savant to see a Bears franchise with oodles of cap space, a premium pick, and a young quarterback with mounds of potential to envision great things ahead. And who wouldn’t want to be the next great defender suiting up for Chicago’s football team? That’s an easy way to earn cult status among Bears fans.

    As for the fit in the Matt Eberflus-Alan Williams scheme, you don’t need to squint to see it. Because while the 3-technique defensive tackle gets a ton of attention in terms of being the anchor of this defense, we’ve seen what this scheme looks like with a butt-kicking defensive end. Remember what Julius Peppers looked like when he was lining up in Lovie Smith’s defense? It wasn’t just the sacks, either. Peppers was an excellent pass-rusher *AND* run-stopper. And those happen to be two boxes Anderson also checks off. Maybe the fit looks less obvious because Anderson plays end and not tackle. But we shouldn’t overthink it.

    We still have 57 days until the NFL Draft. So there is still time for this to shake out. Things can change so many times between now and draft weekend. But if things stay as they are now, I wouldn’t be opposed to the Bears investing in Anderson with their first pick — no matter where they make it.

    written by

    Luis C. Medina, who you can find on Twitter at lcm1986, has been covering the Chicago Bears at Bleacher Nation since 2017. Since then, he has written about 3 head coaches, 5 play-callers, and 11 starting quarterbacks. Previously, Luis wrote about the Cubs and MLB at BN (2015-16) and worked in the Chicago Tribune sports department (2011-16). He also co-hosted a Cubs postgame show, Outside the Ivy, in 2019.

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