It’s always hard - and usually pointless - to make declarative statements about any draft pick before the player actually gets on the field, but it sure seems like the Cowboys are killing this draft. After trading away one of their two fifth-round picks to move up for Tyler Biadasz, the Cowboys had to wait until the final pick of the fifth round to get another player.
That didn’t keep them from getting what many are calling an absolute steal at the 179th overall spot. Bradlee Anae, an edge rusher out of Utah, was the choice for Dallas after the highly-rated prospect inexplicably fell to them. Pro Football Focus had rated him as the 130th best prospect and Dane Brugler had him even higher:
Bradlee Anae was the 130th-ranked player on the PFF board, and the 17th-ranked edge defender. Dane Brugler was even higher on him, ranking him 89th overall.— Cowboys Stats & Graphics (@CowboysStats) April 25, 2020
The Cowboys took him at pick No. 179.
As a three-year starter at Utah, Anae tallied 40 career sacks and recorded double-digit sacks each of his final three years while serving as a key leader of one of the best defenses in college football. Playing at 257 pounds with a 6’3” frame, Anae was a force off the edge. He played in a variety of roles, including as a 4-3 defensive ed, 3-technique defensive tackle, and even as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
It was that kind of versatility and his high level of effort that made him a pet cat among many Cowboys fans. But after recording a terrible time in the 40-yard dash at the combine, along with other less-than-ideal measurements, Anae fell in the draft. But that didn’t change the pass rushing monster that showed up on tape:
Shorter arms. 4.91 speed. But Anae can get after the quarterback.— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) April 25, 2020
Give me hungry rushers with physical hands who can break down the rhythm of blockers. The theme of the #Cowboys draft has been value, landing talent later than they should have lasted. https://t.co/DTzzl0mVBU
To say that Anae was a coveted prospect among the Cowboys community would be understating it. Our own Connor Livesay came away particularly impressed with him after the Senior Bowl, and I couldn’t stop raving about him in my scouting report on Anae. As each pick was announced and Anae remained available, Cowboys fans everywhere were hoping he’d fall into Jerry Jones’ lap.
As it turns out, he did. And this selection of Anae continues the team’s streak of getting players well after they were expected to be taken. Anae will compete with the likes of Aldon Smith (hopefully), Randy Gregory (hopefully), Dorance Armstrong Jr., and others for the edge rushing spot opposite of DeMarcus Lawrence. And speaking of Tank, Anae is apparently a big fan:
Cowboys DE Bradlee Anae said he's studied DE DeMarcus Lawrence more than any NFL player. "Getting the chance to come to Dallas is such a dream come true. It's very surreal. I can't wait to work with DeMarcus and excel from there." They share an agent, @davidcanter.— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) April 25, 2020