Anthony Waters   LB   Clemson
 
STRENGTHS 
If Anthony had not gotten injured, he would have been one of the higher rated LBs in this draft.  He is an attacking type of LB that is a meet, greet and shed in the hole type of LB; he is one of the better tacklers in this draft.  He plays with excellent balance and burst and before he was injured, he was one of the fastest in this draft.  Anthony is a leader who has played more than one position for his team and although he is a little tight in the hips, he still does a good job defending against the pass.  He shows excellent instincts; shame on any team looking for a linebacker in this draft passing on this kid if he is on schedule in gaining his health back.  He is well worth the wait because when hes healthy, you are looking at a top every-down linebacker that attacks and excels in stopping the run with the potential to become your leader on defense.  
 
NEEDS TO IMPROVE
Anthony injured his knee in a way that may take a full year for rehab and recovery.  Personally, I would not worry about it.  Willis McGahee was drafted in the first round with exactly the same type of injury.  My best guess on this is that Anthony will need the 2007 season to get healthy.  Trust me, he is well worth the wait because once he gets on the field, he will impact very quickly.   
 
TALENT BOARD ROUND: 1 /Injury Red Flag
I understand passing on Anthony early in this draft, but if you pass on him with a first day compensatory pick or in the fourth round, you just passed on a player that, if his rehab goes well, will be a Pro Bowl player in the NFL.  He is a great fit for any defense and a perfect match for the 1-gap attack defense that so many teams are going to; he is strong and will hold his gap assignment.  Anthony is a three-down LB, but he does struggle a little with coverage.  I feel that if you make him your MLB he will do just fine because he has just enough lateral agility to handle zone responsibilities -- his north-south speed and burst are his biggest strengths.  When you find a player who can tackle like Anthony, can you overlook some other athletic limitations because you know that his passion, intelligence and character will override those limitations and he will never stop trying to get better than he is right now?  Anthony reminds me a lot of Ray Lewis (LB Ravens) when he plays on the field.  He has that type of potential.  Ray was drafted in 1996 at the 26th pick in the draft with about the same limitations in pass defense as Anthony has.  I figure that if Anthony was healthy, he would have been rated right about in that same area or higher because this draft is weak in impact LBs.  It has good solid LBs, but not many impact LBs.  Now with this information, would you rather pick Anthony at the end of the second or third round and wait one year?

Drew Boylhart

March/2007