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 Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Dallas Cowboys Analysis: Bradlee Anae

Run Defense

Anae certainly has his highlight moments in run support, but unfortunately, there isn’t much consistency to his game. Adequate mental processing to diagnose runs, poor pad height, adequate lower body strength, and a surprising lack of hand usage in the run game often leave him turned around or driven back by offensive linemen he beats when pass rushing.

Considering how technically sound Anae is as a pass rusher, it is puzzling how lost he can look in the run game. Firstly, he generally struggles to diagnose what type and the direction of the run. This lapse in mental processing causes him to be late when initiating contact at the point of attack.

Because he struggles to diagnose the run, he also stands too tall out of his stance causing his pad height to be higher than it should be. This combined with everything above causes him to be driven back or spun around with ease. Standing too tall out of his stance along with adequate lower body strength prevents him from anchoring against base and dive blocks.

In addition, attacking late at the point attack causes his arms to be in an incorrect position leaving him unable to disengage from blocks to make necessary tackles at the line. Fortunately, these issues are correctable with coaching, and considering the character of Anae, there is a good chance he progresses in this area.

Foot Speed

The 4.93-second 40-yard dash at the combine checks out based on the foot speed he displays on tape. When asked to play in coverage, Anae was forced to chase down the scrambling QB and struggled to get close enough to make a play on him before the QB slid or ran out of bounds. The marginal foot speed also prevents Anae from lining up from the 7 technique and 9 technique positions, positions that could be used more frequently in DC Mike Nolan’s multiple-front defense.

Not having the speed to challenge OTs leverage out of their pass set in these positions makes him largely a one-trick pony for his rookie season. However, that isn’t all that bad considering how productive the Ute was as a 5 technique pass rusher for his collegiate team.

Pass Rush Plan (sort of)

Anae is a technician with his pass rush plan utilizing all types of moves to get around OTs. However, when moves don’t work the first time around, he will struggle to pass rush. This is because he doesn’t incorporate a bull rush at the end of his plan.

For one of the more fundamentally sound EDGE rushers in this class, it is puzzling that he doesn’t incorporate a bull rush into his plan as a primary or secondary move. This could be linked to two things: he was asked to contain the edge if the pass rush was unsuccessful, or he knows he doesn’t have the necessary lower body strength to collapse the pocket.

Based on my observations regarding his run defense, I would lean towards the latter being a higher possibility. That said, he will have time to implement a bull rush into his pass rush plan making him an even more lethal EDGE player.