One of the picks made during the final day of the draft was Oklahoma Sooners running back Rodney Anderson in Round 6. When healthy, Anderson was a tremendous talent that had early Day 2 potential in the draft.
However, multiple season-ending injuries in college led to Anderson taking a fall all the way to Round 6 before Cincinnati scooped him up. Even so, Anderson has been touted by several experts as the Bengals’ best value pick in the draft.
But that’s not even the biggest praise Anderson has gotten.
Over at ESPN, Mike Sando spoke with a number of league executives about all 32 NFL teams’ draft classes. When it came to the Bengals, one exec had some high praise for the kind of back Anderson is when healthy:
An evaluator thought the Bengals could emerge from this draft with one of the NFL’s best running back tandems by pairing sixth-rounder Rodney Anderson with established starter Joe Mixon. This evaluator also liked Trayveon Williams, the other back Cincy took in the sixth.
”We knew Rodney was going to fall because of the medical and maybe because of some allegations that have been discredited,” an evaluator said. “He can be the best back in this draft when he’s healthy, along the lines of a David Johnson.”
That’s really high praise, considering David Johnson was arguably the best running back in football in 2016 when he had over 2,000 yards from scrimmage while scoring 20 touchdowns. But like Anderson, injuries have been a major issue for Johnson, who has just 963 rushing yards in his last two seasons while averaging 3.6 yards per carry.
In addition, Anderson faced a rape allegation in 2017, but no charges were filed, and he passed a polygraph test. It still probably made teams more weary of drafting Anderson when combined with his injury issues.
In the end, the Bengals took a gamble on Anderson, but it’s of the low-risk, high-reward variety when you realize how good he is when healthy.