Dallas Cowboys: The Curious Case of Bradlee Anae

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Bradlee Anae, EDGE (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images) /

Dallas Cowboys Analysis: Bradlee Anae

Competitive Toughness

Playing a position that requires athletes to essentially knock out their opposition requires the said player to display good competitive toughness. Anae showcases consistent effort on every rep and will win against offensive linemen with effort after his initial move proves unsuccessful. The man’s motor doesn’t stop until the whistle.

Solid First Step

The first step off the LOS can make or break a rep for an EDGE rusher. The EDGE has to key the ball and then accelerate with one step upfield to challenge the OT out of his pass set. The more explosive the EDGE rusher is, the more the rusher can do as they have likely won the leverage battle between him and the OT.

In the case of Anae, his explosiveness his not earth-shattering, but it is effective enough to test some of the best OTs in the CFB. Against former USC OT Austin Jackson and future top 5 pick Oregon OT Penei Sewell, there were numerous times where he displayed good ability to key the ball and explode off the LOS to test their leverage out of the pass set.

Consistency will be key at the next level, but his film showed someone who could compete with the necessary athleticism against NFL-caliber talent. That is important as his biggest concern was his athleticism concerns.

Usage of Hands when Pass Rushing

Anae recorded over 29 sacks in four years of college football. That isn’t a common occurrence, especially with someone of the Ute’s recorded athletic performance. Anae really separated himself at the collegiate level with his technique and it paid dividends for him.

In the clip above, he recognizes the edge around Jackson had softened significantly because Anae attacked upfield quicker. Aware of this, he uses his inside arm to long arm Jackson at the center of his breastplate to create the space he needed to bend and corner the QB for the sack.

This clip of Anae dominating a tackle was one of many from the Senior Bowl game and practices. Off the snap, he attacks upfield testing the leverage of the OT out of his pass set. Noticing he has stepped outside more than he should, Anae counters with his solid change of direction and utilizes a club swim move that is effective because of the punch location and timing. Anae blows past the OT and forces a negative play.

Anae displays adequate foot speed, but that doesn’t matter here as he uses his solid explosiveness off the LOS, attacks upfield, and then initiates contact first with a two-handed swipe to complete the speed rush. Very similar to the one against Jackson versus USC.

Play Speed as Pass Rusher

I previously mentioned his foot speed was adequate at best so let me explain the difference. At his fastest, mobile quarterbacks will outrun him in a race downhill. This is because of Anae’s adequate foot speed. Anae’s ability to explode off the LOS, initiate contact, and then employ a pass rush move to rush QB quickly displays his play speed.

There is a mental processing component to play speed that is intentionally left out of foot speed. Anae plays fast as a pass rusher and it is a big reason why he is able to win against the more athletic offensive linemen of the PAC-12. It will also be the reason he succeeds in any capacity at the next level.

Positional Versatility

The team captain lined up in various ways along the defensive line. He was employed as a 5 technique rusher out of a two-point stance, 5 technique rusher out of a three-point stance, a 4 technique rusher out of a four-point stance, and a 3 technique rusher out of a three and four-point stance. He lined up at all these spots depending on the situation, however, his ability to pass rush as a 3 technique in a three-point stance caught my eye.

The Ute’s previously mentioned explosiveness and solid upper body strength give him a unique ability to pass rush against offensive guards. He was much quicker off the LOS against interior offensive linemen and has the necessary play strength to employ the same power moves he uses as an EDGE rusher.

At 257 pounds, he currently doesn’t have the body type to routinely rush from the interior at the next level. Considering his body type, he would likely struggle to try and add more weight as he would need to get stronger in the legs. It might be hard to envision the Hawaiian playing anything other than EDGE but he does have experience playing and winning at 3 technique, something the team has previously expressed they value highly.

Left Arm Tattoo Sleeve

I mean…. Come on….