Name: Bruce Anderson
Position: Running Back
School: North Dakota State
A quick, highlight reel runner, Bruce Anderson is more than just a prospective scat back. Yes, he is an explosive weapon with big play ability that makes defenders miss in the open field. But he can also be a downhill runner who finishes with purpose.
Anderson’s top speed is adequate for the next level, perhaps a step above. But his burst when he makes his first cut is one of his greatest assets. He has powerful, constantly-churning legs that get him to his next gear quickly, and when he gets in the open field, he has enough breakaway speed to blow past slower defensive backs. At the very least, Anderson’s speed was enough to return kicks and should translate to the NFL.
Again, the quick legs and low base allow for quick, explosive cuts without losing momentum. Anderson is dangerous in the open field because he can set up his man with one cut before stringing together moves and making his opponents look foolish. It is not just in the open field, either. When Anderson makes his initial cut through a hole, he is adept at breaking down and making the second level make a decision.
Anderson’s base and feet make him a load to bring down, but he will likely not be a between-the-tackles style of runner in the NFL. He is more wont to run around tackles or engage with a stiff-arm, rather than run through them. That said, when he has to, he will lower the shoulder and finish with forward momentum.
While not overly productive out of the backfield, Anderson shows polish as a receiver. His hands are smooth and natural, as is his route-running. His wheel routes are particularly impressive, as he is excellent at selling the underneath route before bursting upfield. He also has the awareness to challenge soft spots in coverage on downfield routes. When he gets the ball in his hands, he is a dangerous weapon, as evidenced by 17.75 yards per catch over his last two seasons. Truth be told, this will probably be Anderson’s most significant role, at least initially.
Patience and Vision
Anderson is generally a patient runner who allows his blocks to take shape before exploding through the hole. He is, however, a big fan of the edge. As such, Anderson may choose to bounce outside a bit more than he should. His zone running could also use a bit of work, since he typically chooses to ride it outside, rather than find the creases and cutbacks. Still, he has uncanny ability to find open space, no matter where the run begins.
When Latavius Murray left for New Orleans, it left Minnesota with a bit of a hole at running back. Yes, Dalvin Cook has the feature role locked up. But behind him is a handful of backs on the bubble with little production under their belt. Roc Thomas may be gone due to his marijuana arrest. And while Minnesota just brought back Ameer Abdullah on a one-year deal, he and Mike Boone are far from locks to nab serious touches behind Cook.
Mid-to-late round running backs can expand offenses overnight. A dual-threat back like Anderson forces defenses to gameplan with their linebackers and safeties. Anderson is not the explosive athlete of, say, Jerick McKinnon. But as a third down back, Anderson brings explosion and an open field threat. In the fourth round or later, he could bring dimension that the Vikings’ offense is a little short on right now.
–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.
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