Having looked at each of the Jets’ draft picks in detail, we’ve now moved on to discuss each of their undrafted free agent signings. We conclude today with a breakdown of Texas offensive lineman Calvin Anderson.
The 23-year old is listed at 6’5” and 300 pounds and started every game last year at Texas, having been a graduate transfer from Rice. He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by New England, but was released after rookie camp.
Anderson was a two-star recruit out of high school and committed to attend Rice University in his junior year, opting to honor that commitment despite getting some offers from higher profile schools as a senior.
After having redshirted in 2014, Anderson would start every game over the next three seasons and didn’t even miss a snap. He was twice named as an honorable mention all-Conference USA selection.
Having graduated at the end of his redshirt junior year, Anderson was eligible to transfer and opted to head to Texas for his final season. He replaced Connor Williams at left tackle, starting all 14 games.
Anderson wasn’t invited to the scouting combine and didn’t play in any high profile all-star games. However, he was able to boost his stock with a strong performance at his pro day. This was not enough to get him drafted though.
The Patriots signed Anderson as an undrafted free agent after he went unselected in the draft, but then released him after rookie mini-camp. The Jets claimed him off waivers.
Now let’s take a look at what Anderson brings to the table, divided into categories.
The first concern about Anderson is that he will need to bulk up and add some functional strength to thrive at the NFL level. Despite being listed at 300, he weighed in at just 292 at his pro day. However, he did impress with 30 bench press reps.
Anderson has already bulked up significantly to get to that size, as he was reportedly only 235 when he arrived at Rice. He also has slightly below average length and hand size.
Despite only posting a 5.31 in the 40-yard dash, the rest of Anderson’s pro day numbers were outstanding, including a 112-inch broad jump and 4.45 short shuttle.
Anderson played four years as a left tackle in college. He also played some snaps as a tight end in jumbo or unbalanced formations.
There has been some concern that he lacks the footwork to play left tackle at the NFL level.
Having given up 11 sacks over his first two seasons, Anderson posted some impressive numbers in his redshirt junior year, giving up just seven total pressures, including two sacks. That was the fifth-lowest amount of pressure in the nation according to Pro Football Focus.
Transferring to Texas gave Anderson a chance to play against some higher profile prospects and his numbers suffered as a direct result as he gave up 26 total pressures. With three games to go in the regular season, he’d only given up two sacks, but he gave up another five in the last three games for a career-worst total of seven.
Where Anderson gives up pressure, it’s often because he is slow to get into his stance and gets beaten around the edge. He can also be susceptible to inside head-fakes and jab steps.
The other issue he has is with bull rushes. While he is sometimes able to reset and anchor himself, he can get completely overpowered if he doesn’t get his hands on his man first, which is what happens here against LJ Collier.
And on this rep, again against Collier, he seems too over-eager to get low to anchor himself and this is easily exploited as he over-balances.
Despite these issues, Anderson shows the foundation of a good pass protection skill-set. He uses his length well, is light on his feet, battles hard and has the explosiveness to recover.
Anderson made some good contributions as a run blocker, both at Rice and at Texas. He works well on combo blocks, can drive off the line, will peel off to the second level and has the mobility to get to his target in space.
On this play, he shows some good power to drive his man downhill and takes him down to create a lane up the middle.
As you can see, he moves well and can get out in front of plays in the running game. However, he’s not always decisive in terms of finding and making contact with his man.
On this play, he has to lunge to stay on top of his man, but readjusts to use his momentum to drive him laterally out of the running lane. This is a habit he needs to shake though, as it will lead to players being able to leverage their way off his blocks.
In pass protection, Anderson displays quick feet and is constantly readjusting his body position, but this appears to be more natural ability rather than technical proficiency. A good coach might be able to improve his economy of motion as in some cases, he takes quick and small steps where one decisive step might suffice, including on his first step out of his stance. This could aid his balance as well.
This battle with Ben Banogu gives a good sense of Anderson’s pass protection abilities. He’s moving his feet, readjusting and using hand strikes to repel Banogu, but never looks fully balanced and eventually gives up pressure because his final shove gives Banogu the separation to duck past him.
As noted, in the running game, the main correction he needs to make is not to bend at the waist and lunge into his blocks. In space he does a good job of resetting his feet to stay between his man and the ball carrier.
Anderson had 23 penalties in his four seasons, including seven last year, mostly for either holding or false starts. In his final year at Rice, he had his best season in terms of discipline with just two penalties.
Anderson did not contribute on special teams at the collegiate level, seeing action only as a blocker on the placekicking unit.
Anderson is smart and impressed his Texas teammates and coaches by learning the playbook quickly having transferred from Rice. He’s yet another Jets rookie that graduated early.
He also went viral because of his abilities with a Rubik’s cube, pulling off such stunts as completing one behind his back.
He can, however, sometimes be late to pick up stunts or delayed blitzes off the edge. On this play, he stays on his block and the tackle stunts around and records the sack.
Anderson is considered as a good worker, who was developing as a vocal leader and his teammates have said he pays attention to detail, prepares well and can display some nastiness.
He doesn’t seem to have had any off-field issues or character flags.
Injuries haven’t been an issue for Anderson at the college level. He started 50 out of 50 possible games with Rice and Texas.
If Anderson is to be groomed to pay the left tackle position at this level, he will need to improve his footwork, balance and hand techniques. However, his athletic ability should fit well into the Jets’ zone-heavy running game.
Anderson athletic potential is good, but it’s going to be challenge for him to make the physical and technical improvements that he’ll need to be able to hold his own against NFL-level opposition.
It’s perhaps not a great sign that New England already felt they’d seen enough by the end of rookie camp, but hopefully they gave up on him too soon.
The Jets currently have 16 offensive linemen under contract, which probably means they’ll get rid of one before preseason so that they have five players for each unit. Anderson will have to make the most of whatever opportunities he gets with the third unit if he’s going to earn a practice squad berth.