Will have issues defending a run downhill straight at him
Can get knocked off balance by contact in the ground game
Not a great fit in a 4-3 defense
Not overly fast
Could struggle to shed blocks from NFL offensive tackles
Gets sacks off effort
Summary: Over the past three seasons, Anae was one of the steadies pass-rushers in college football. After two sacks over six games as a freshman, Anae broke out in 2017 with seven sacks, 10 tackles for a loss, 39 tackles and three forced fumbles. He improved as a junior to 51 tackles, eight sacks, 15.5 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and three passes defended. After a slow start to 2019, the senior came alive and finished the regular season simply terrorizing the quarterback, totaling 13 sacks with 41 tackles, one forced fumble and one pass batted for the year. Anae started 2020 with a quality performance at the Senior Bowl and then played very well in the game.
In the pass rush, Anae is a hard-charging edge defender who doesn't quit. He is not overly fast or strong, but he has a knack for fighting through blocks and enough quickness to make him a threat to turn the corner. Anae has some strength and is able to use his hands and feet at the time to shed blocks. Frequently, Anae is initially blocked, but through his second effort, he is able to make things happen for his defense. He is the epitome of a "try hard" guy who gets some sacks off effort. Anae is not a speed demon off the edge and he does not have the size or strength to overpower tackles. Team sources also believe Anae has bad eyes. Thus, his collegiate sack numbers probably won't be duplicated in the NFL.
Anae is at his best in run defense when trying to cause havoc in the backfield by pushing through the line. He is going to have problems taking on pro offensive lines and holding his gap against downhill runs coming straight at him as he is undersized to handle the run in the NFL. Anae gives a great effort and plays tough, but his natural size presents limitations as a run stopper for the next level.
Anae is an undersized edge defender, and as a result, his best fit would be as a 3-4 outside linebacker. In a 4-3 defense, he would have to rotate with a run-stuffing defensive end. Playing in a 3-4 in which he would have a five-technique to help occupy offensive tackles could be the best way for Anae to be an every-down player. Anae has a high motor and finds ways to win, so he could be an overachiever in the NFL.
Team sources say they graded Anae on the third day of the 2020 NFL Draft, but given the demand for pass-rushers, he could end up being a mid-rounder who sneaks into Friday night as a selection on Day 2.
Player Comparison: Lamarr Woodley. Anae reminds me of a poor man's Woodley. Woodley (6-2, 265) was similar in size but had more speed and athleticism than Anae. Thus, Woodley was a second-round pick while Anae might be a mid-rounder.