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2015 NFL DRAFT
player photo

James Anderson

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 229 | College: Virginia Tech
 
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Overview

The two-time starter at weak-side linebacker is not only respected for his athletic ability, but also for his character and work ethic. He was a finalist for the Wuerffel Trophy and also a finalist for the ARA Sportsmanship Award. In the team's weight room, he became the first Tech player to earn the Excalibur Award ? the top honor in Tech's strength and conditioning program ? four times.

Anderson was a Prep Stars All-American who was rated the eighth-best linebacker in the Atlantic Region as a senior at Deep Creek High School. He was named second-team Group AAA All-State as a linebacker by both the coaches and Associated Press. He added first-team All-Tidewater honors from the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot and ranked the No. 26 prospect in Virginia by Super Prep and the Roanoke Times.

As a senior, Anderson recorded 41 tackles, five sacks, four fumble recoveries and an interception. He also competed in basketball and track, attaining a career best of 6'6" in the high jump and finishing sixth in the state shot put as a senior.

Anderson redshirted in 2001 at Virginia Tech, performing on the scout team. He played in every game in 2002, earning three starts and posting 47 tackles (28 solos) with a half sack, three stops for losses and a forced fumble. He spent the bulk of the 2003 season playing on special teams, as only four of his 41 tackles (29 solos) came during defensive action.

Anderson started 12 games at weak-side linebacker in 2004, performing in 117 special teams and 368 defensive snaps. He ranked seventh on the squad with 48 tackles (21 solos) and had 2.5 sacks with 6.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He also recovered two fumbles and intercepted a pass.

He started every game as a senior, ranking second on the Tech team with a career-high 82 tackles (41 solos). Anderson registered three sacks and tied for third on the team with 8.5 stops for losses. He caused and recovered a fumble, batted away three passes and had two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.

In 53 games with the Hokies, Anderson started 28 times. He collected 218 tackles (119 solos) with seven sacks for minus-26 yards and 18 stops for losses of 75 yards. He was credited with six quarterback pressures, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles. Anderson also gained 53 yards with a touchdown on three interception returns and deflected five passes.

Analysis

Positives: Has a well-muscled frame that looks sturdy, with broad shoulders, good bubble and thick legs … Has outstanding speed and acceleration for his position … Hard worker in the weight room, winning team conditioning awards all four seasons … Has valid weight room strength … Shows a sudden burst to fill the rush lanes and takes on blocks well with his hands … Keeps his hands active in attempts to reroute the tight end off the snap … Has the speed to close quickly on the outside run and has the change of direction agility to recover when the runner cuts back inside … Decent wrap-up tackler who has some pop in him when he brings his arms … Very disruptive in the limited chances he gets to blitz off the edge, as he has the speed to turn the corner and run down plays from the back side.

Negatives: His weight room strength does not translate to the field, as it is rare to see him shock and jolt a runner … Has good academic ability, but is late at times trying to digest the play, especially when asked to drop back into zone coverage … Relies a lot on his speed to close, but would be even more effective if he took better angles … Shows good courage taking on blockers at the line, but lets the linemen inside his body too much, causing him to get hung on the block … Has smooth hips to turn quickly coming out of his backpedal, but is slow to react to the ball in flight (does not get his head turned) … Has good power, but it is rare to see him explode behind his tackles.

Anderson is a late bloomer who is just starting to come into his own. His speed is his best asset, as he is a disruptive force coming off the edge to close on the pocket. He has the valid speed to stay with receivers on long routes, but needs to show better ball anticipation skills locating the ball in flight and get his head turned around better.

He is a smart student who takes plays from the board to the field, but must show a better feel for the ball, especially vs. the inside run and in passing situations. He keeps his base too narrow and lets blockers into his body too much, causing him to struggle when trying to shed.

Anderson does show good urgency closing on the ball and when he stays low in his pads, he can shock and jolt the ball carrier on the corner. He just needs to do it with more consistency. He has fluid hips and change of direction agility to work down the line. He reminds me some of the Colts' David Thornton for the way he can generate heat and suddenly burst to close on the ball.

Anderson showed marked improvement tracking through traffic to get to the ball and improved his tackling technique (lowering his head) when charging up to the line to fill the rush lanes. He works much better in space than at the line, as he looks very comfortable utilizing his range to cover from sideline to sideline. In pass coverage, he is much more effective staying on the hip of a receiver in man coverage than dropping back to handle change-offs working in the zone.

His leaping ability lets him get to the ball at its high point, but he is slow when having to diagnose in the trenches. Anderson's speed makes him an inviting prospect. He has very good weight room figures, but must use them more when on the field. He will need to add some lower body bulk to anchor at the next level, though.

His excellence on the special teams coverage units and in nickel packages will bring instant returns on a late first day or early second day draft investment. His frame can carry the additional weight needed, but with his work ethic, look for him to blossom in the right system.

Career Notes

Only player in school history to win the Excalibur Award, given for the top performance in Tech's strength and conditioning program, four times … Registered 150 of his 218 career tackles and 15 of his 18 stops behind the line of scrimmage during his last two years at Tech.

2005 Season

Started all year at "Whip" (weakside) linebacker … Finished second on the team with a career-high 82 tackles (41 solos) and tied for third on the squad with 8.5 stops for losses of 37 yards … Had three sacks for minus-7 yards and three quarterback pressures … Caused and recovered a fumble … Deflected four passes and intercepted two others for 39 yards in returns and a touchdown … Helped the Hokies lead the nation in total defense (247.62 ypg) and rank eighth in rush defense (93.38 ypg).

2005 Game Analysis

North Carolina State … Opened the season with 10 tackles (7 solos).

Duke … Limited to three assisted tackles.

Ohio University … Made 10 tackles (6 solos) with a 2-yard sack, two stops for losses of 22 yards and a forced fumble … Sacked QB Austen Evenson for a 2-yard loss on the game's opening drive … Chased down Evenson on a second quarter third-and-2 option play, tackling the QB for a 20-yard loss and caused a fumble that was recovered by defensive end Noland Burchette, setting up a 1-yard scoring run by Tech halfback Cedric Humes.

Georgia Tech … Added five hits with a pressure and a pass deflection.

West Virginia … Produced four solo tackles and sacked QB Adam Bednarik for a 4-yard loss on a third-and-8 play during the game's opening series.

Marshall … Totaled 12 tackles (5 solos) with two assisted stops behind the line of scrimmage.

Maryland … Intercepted a pass and collected nine tackles with a pass breakup.

Boston College … Held to two tackles and a deflected pass.

Miami … Was in on seven hits (4 solos), as he sacked QB Kyle Wright for a 2-yard loss on a second-and-goal play at the start of the third quarter and dragged down tailback Derron Thomas for a 5-yard loss midway through the fourth quarter.

Virginia … Collected 10 tackles (6 solos), including one that stopped Jason Sterling for a 1-yard loss after the receiver caught a screen pass from QB Marques Hagans on a first-and-goal play at the start of the third quarter.

North Carolina … Limited to three assisted tackles, a pressure and a pass breakup.

Florida State (ACC Championship) … Managed only a pair of tackles.

Louisville (Gator Bowl) … Closed out his career with five tackles, assisting defensive end Noland Burchette in taking down tailback Michael Bush for a 4-yard loss midway through the first quarter … Recovered a fourth quarter fumble that was caused when defensive end Chris Ellis sacked QB Hunter Cantwell for a 7-yard loss, setting up a 5-yard touchdown pass from QB Marcus Vick to Jeff King with 6:09 left to play … On Louisville's next drive, Anderson intercepted a third-and-14 pass thrown by Cantwell and returned the ball 39 yards for a touchdown that sealed a 35-24 win.

2004 Season

Started 12 games at weak-side linebacker … Ranked seventh on the team with 48 tackles (21 solos) … Registered 2.5 sacks for minus-11 yards and 6.5 stops for losses of 19 yards … Recovered two fumbles and deflected one pass … Also had a 14-yard interception return … During the team's winter conditioning program, Anderson recorded a 350-pound bench, a 530-pound back squat, a 326-pound power clean and a 336-pound push jerk in spring testing … Also posted a 38 1/2-inch vertical jump and a 4.48 40-yard dash.

2004 Game Analysis

Duke … Assisted in sacking QB Mike Schneider for a 1-yard loss and made three hits.

North Carolina State … Had five tackles, including one for a 2-yard loss.

West Virginia … Took down tailback Kay-Jay Harris behind the line of scrimmage and was in on five tackles (3 solos).

Maryland … Registered three solo tackles, recovered a fumble and returned an interception 14 yards.

Virginia … Sacked QB Marques Hagans for a 3-yard loss and delivered seven tackles.

Miami … Recovered a fumble and registered four tackles … Also sacked QB Brock Berlin for an 8-yard loss.

Auburn (Sugar Bowl) … Came up with four tackles, assisting on one stop behind the line of scrimmage.

2003 Season

Reserve linebacker who registered 37 of his 41 tackles (29 solos) on special teams … Saw action in every game … Posted a 41 1/2-inch vertical jump on the way to Super Iron Hokie honors in the spring … Also had a personal-best 540-pound back squat.

2003 Game Analysis

Made eight tackles (7 solos) vs. James Madison and had four stops each against Texas A&M, Rutgers, Boston College and Pittsburgh … Produced five solo tackles vs. Miami … Had a pair of hits vs. California in the Insight Bowl.

2002 Season

Played in every game, starting three (Temple, Pittsburgh, Syracuse) at weak-side linebacker … Finished with 47 tackles (28 solos), 1.5 sacks for minus-8 yards and three stops for losses of 9 yards … Had three pressures and caused a fumble … Ran a 4.43 40-yard dash during spring max testing … Set a position record for whip linebackers with a 341-pound push jerk … Also bench-pressed 370 pounds and had a 38 1/2-inch vertical jump on the way to Super Iron Hokie honors.

2002 Game Analysis

Caused a fumble and totaled five tackles (2 solos) vs. Louisiana State … Had a 6-yard sack and six tackles (5 solos) vs. Western Michigan … In his first collegiate start, Anderson made 11 tackles vs. Temple … Followed with eight tackles (6 solos), an assisted sack and two stops for losses of 3 yards vs. Pittsburgh … Added six hits (4 solos) vs. Syracuse.

2001 Season

Redshirted as a freshman … His 36 1/2-inch vertical jump during spring testing was the second-best among the Hokies' inside linebackers … Also turned in the second-best hang clean (305 pounds) in the group and the third-best back squat (500 pounds).

Injury Report

No injuries reported.

Agility Tests

Campus: 4.47 in the 40-yard dash … 385-pound bench press … 540-pound squat … 326-pound power clean … 41.5-inch vertical jump … 32 -inch arm length … 9 -inch hands … Right-handed … 21/41 Wonderlic score.

Combine: 4.50 seconds in the 40-yard dash. … 40-inch vertical jump. … 10'04" broad jump. … did not participate in the 225-pound bench press.

High School

Attended Deep Creek (Chesapeake, Va.) High School, playing football for head coach David Cox … Prep Stars All-American who was rated the eighth-best linebacker in the Atlantic Region as a senior … Named second-team Group AAA All-State as a linebacker by both the coaches and Associated Press … Added first-team All-Tidewater honors from the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot and ranked the No. 26 prospect in Virginia by Super Prep and the Roanoke Times … As a senior, Anderson recorded 41 tackles, five sacks, four fumble recoveries and an interception … Also competed in basketball and track, attaining a career best of 6'6" in the high jump and finishing sixth in the state shot put as a senior.

Personal

Graduated with a degree in Studio Art and is enrolled in Health and Physical Education in

graduate school … Son of James Sr., and Brenda Anderson … His father played basketball at North Carolina A&T … Born James Nathaniel Anderson on 9/26/83 in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina … Resides in Chesapeake, Virginia.

 
 

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