2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Troy Andersenby Mason Thompson April 24, 2022 0 comments
There’s a familiar saying in the draft for small-school prospects. The “if you’re good enough, they’ll find you” saying has been true the last few seasons, with players like Dallas Goedert, Kyle Dugger, and Quinn Meinerz showing that they can compete from the FCS and Division-II and Division-III ranks. In the Division-I FCS ranks, three specific players will go within the first five rounds of the draft, including a potential first-rounder in Christian Watson, along with Pierre Strong Jr and Troy Andersen. This scouting report will focus on Andersen, the linebacker from Montana State. First off, Andersen wasn’t a true linebacker when he first came to Montana State. He won the Big Sky Freshman of the Year Award during the 2017 season as a running back.
Andersen totaled over 500 yards and five touchdowns on the ground during his freshman season before making his first transition. In 2018, he switched to a full-time quarterback, primarily as a runner, where he started 11 of Montana State’s 13 games. Andersen rushed for over 100 yards in nine games and scored 21 rushing touchdowns, a Montana State record. In his junior season, Andersen switched to the defensive side while still factoring in on offense. In 2021, he looked like a different specimen at the linebacker spot, earning the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year Award. After a strong Senior Bowl showing, Andersen has his eyes firmly set on the NFL Draft in less than a week.
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Name: Troy Andersen
Jersey: No. 15
School: Montana State
Weight: 245 lbs
Games Watched: Sacramento State (2019), Montana (2021), South Dakota State (2021), NDSU (2021)
Major Injury History: Knee Surgery (2020)
Despite only playing linebacker full-time since the start of the 2019 season while still playing a bunch offensively, Andersen has a lot more knowledge than you’d expect. He is really quick at reading plays, especially screens, as seen in the South Dakota State game. Andersen has a good understanding of blocking schemes and can easily make offensive linemen look silly with his quick change of direction to put the lineman on their faces. While he isn’t perfect and can be susceptible to some play-action passes, Andersen is off to a tremendous start for such a short time at the linebacker position.
With his instincts and quickness, it is no surprise to see Andersen succeed in tackling. He is an aggressive tackler that isn’t afraid to lay someone out. Andersen did so in the National Title Game against North Dakota State, and the hit was reviewed for targeting. Andersen is a tad inconsistent here and isn’t a perfect player as he will miss the occasional tackle and whiff on some angles.
Block Shedding (7.75/10)
Andersen has plus length as a linebacker, so he already has plenty to work within this regard. Pair that with his speed and instincts, and Andersen could be dominant in this trait down the road. In the game against the Bison, Andersen struggled to disengage from blockers, and that was a big reason the Bobcats were destroyed in the title game. With more experience, Andersen will only get better here.
Run Defense (8/10)
For the first few seasons at Montana State, Andersen was the one manipulating linebackers. Now, he’s the one trying to decipher blocking schemes and put himself into the position he once was as a running back. Andersen is a good run defender and does an excellent job of getting into space and keeping his eyes on the ball carrier. There were numerous times when Andersen stopped the running back short of the first-down marker on third and fourth downs in short-distance situations. Unfortunately, as stated already, he can take bad angles occasionally, resulting in chunk gains from the opposing offense.
Pursuit/Closing Speed (9.75/10)
Andersen can close distances in an instant. He has absurd speed and length, and that was seen when he ran a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash, along with his elite explosion grades. While some prospects don’t typically have their athletic skills at the combine show up on tape, it was always there for Andersen on tape.
Pass Rush Skills (6.5/10)
Andersen has experience with being sent through the A-gap on blitzes. He pummeled opposing quarterbacks in these situations, and whenever they saw him for the rest of the game coming after them, the quarterback would panic and make a bad decision. While he doesn’t have a lot of experience here, the team that drafts him should have a few different situations where they use him on blitzes.
Man Coverage (7/10)
Similar to the rest of the traits above, it is intriguing to see Andersen do well in his man coverage skills already. He was tasked with covering tight ends and running backs for a good amount of the season and would routinely have opportunities to break up passes. In the title game, Andersen even fared well against Watson when he was in the slot.
Zone Coverage (7.75/10)
Similar to his man coverage, Andersen did well in zone coverage and was typically a hook-curl defender. There were a few plays in the Montana and South Dakota State games where the opposing offense ran a stick concept, and Andersen would break on the quick pass and timely hit the defender to jar the ball loose upon its arrival.
Ball Skills (4/5)
While there isn’t a lot of production in this area in terms of interceptions and pass breakups, there were many things on film that showed he can be successful here. Andersen has elite quickness and explosiveness to break on quick routes, and that, paired with his length, will help him as he continues to grow into his linebacker position.
A player that has succeeded at running back, quarterback, AND linebacker is a truly versatile prospect. It wouldn’t be a big surprise to see him used in certain packages on offense, similar to Jabrill Peppers during his time at Michigan.
Andersen is one of the most intriguing players in the 2022 class. As of right now, he is projected to go on day two of the draft, and whichever team takes him will get an immediate difference-maker at the second level of their defense that can only continue to grow from here. Andersen doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses in his game, and if there were to be one that he needs to work on the most, it would be his block deconstruction skills.
With a limited sample as a linebacker, Andersen likely won’t start as a MIKE linebacker during his rookie season and would be best fit as a WILL linebacker that will get him in on multiple different blitz packages and coverages. With more experience, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Andersen step into the MIKE role as the leader of the defense, which he already was at Montana State. He has elite athleticism and leadership, which you can’t teach, and what you can, it seems to come easy to him.
Rookie Projection: Starting 4-3 WILL Linebacker
Third Year Projection: Starting MIKE Linebacker
Final Grade (81/100): Late Second Round
Player Comp: Diet Isaiah Simmons