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Does Spencer Anderson have a chance to make it with the Steelers?

The Steelers last pick of the 2023 NFL Draft will bank on versatility to stay in the NFL.

Maryland v Michigan State Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Spencer Anderson was selected with the 251st pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, only eight more players would be chosen after him. It shouldn’t need to be said that it is unlikely for Spencer Anderson to become a starter in the NFL, as most seventh rounders do not. But a decent number of them turn out to be long-time NFL players, and while Spencer Anderson joins a deep offensive line room on the Pittsburgh Steelers, he definitely has a chance to make this roster and carve out an NFL career. Let’s take a look at what he brings to the table.

Spencer Anderson (#54) is the right guard, just below the center on screen.

Playing guard against Ohio State you see Anderson has enough power to get push on this double team, and as he gets crashed into from behind he takes his defender with him.

Spencer Anderson (#54) is the center.

Here, in 2021, Anderson is playing center against Michigan, and does a good job blocking 2023 first round pick Mazi Smith. Anderson did a phenomenal job blocking Mazi Smith on run plays in this game, able to handle Smith’s size and strength while playing center.

Anderson does well on inside zone plays and runs that ask him to seal an interior lineman out of the play. He isn’t going to drive NFL quality defensive tackles like Mazi Smith backwards much at all on his own, but he holds his own well.

Spencer Anderson (#54) is the right guard, just above the center on screen.

You can see Spencer Anderson’s athleticism on this play from the moment he releases to block for the screen and you can see him stay with the runner throughout the play. You will also notice that while Anderson stays with the play, he doesn’t make any real blocks either.

Spencer Anderson (#54) is the right tackle second from the bottom to start the play.

Here Anderson is at right tackle, and when his quarterback, Taulia Tagovailoa takes off running Anderson comes that way as well, but doesn’t block anyone or seem like he even knows what he should be doing. This is a common theme in Anderson’s film. When he gets out in space he does a very poor job of finding a target to block, and often just runs with the play instead of getting involved.

Spencer Anderson (#54) is the Center.

He’s much more decisive in the pocket. Here he carries the defensive tackle to his right before switching to pick up the stunt from the 2022 2nd overall pick, Aiden Hutchinson. Anderson shuts down the stunt, then when Hutchinson tries to get back into the play, he cuts off his angle and ends up taking out another wolverine defender, buying time for his quarterback to find a receiver and throw for a first down.

With his athletic testing (9.35 RAS) you would expect Anderson to be a weapon pulling on run plays and on downfield blocks, similar to Steelers 1st round pick Broderick Jones, but while Spencer Anderson certainly shows his athleticism on those plays, he isn’t very effective on those plays as he struggles to find someone to block, or even come in physical contact with on those plays. He’s much more comfortable in the pocket where he shows awareness and decisiveness in dealing with messy and complex situations.

Spencer Anderson (#54) is the right guard, right above the center on screen.

When Anderson is pass blocking inside, he shows quick, strong hands and a good sense for mirroring his opponent.

Spencer Anderson (#54) is the right tackle, farthest to the bottom on the line.

Anderson is also a good pass blocker at tackle, where he shows good feet and hands, consistently keeping himself between the rusher and his quarterback.

Spencer Anderson (#54) is the right tackle, farthest to the top of the screen on the line.

Anderson starts to set wide on this play, only to have the rusher attack him inside, and you can see how well Anderson reverses course, sliding inside to shut down the rush.

While Anderson shows quick hands and good feet on these plays, and throughout his career was always considered a strong pass blocker, he does have a weakness that shows up multiple times on film.

Spencer Anderson (#54) is the center.

Mazi Smith gets an arm inside on Anderson and uses it to bull rush Anderson back into the pocket. Two things happen here, first notice how Smith uses that long arm to knock Anderson vertical, and second, the impact that has on Anderson’s feet, as he tries to hop back and anchor but is too vertical to do so, and from there he gets walked backwards to his quarterback.

That’s not the worst thing, Mazi Smith is a powerful and big defender, it’s why he was drafted in the first round in this year’s draft, but it wasn’t just Mazi Smith.

Spencer Anderson (#54) is the right tackle, bottom of the screen on the line.

This is much worse. Anderson lets the defender get hands on him high and drive him right off his feet. Worse yet, Anderson’s quarterback was injured on this play by the player that knocked him over.

Anderson has very short arms for an offensive tackle, and that plays a big part here, but getting driven vertical and off-balance because he let a bull-rush get good hand placement is a problem Anderson will need to address before he sees the field in the NFL.

Spencer Anderson (#54) is the center.

One of the ways that Anderson would successfully deal with those rushes was to steer the rush to one side. As soon as the defender shows his hand with the bull rush, Anderson is trying to get him to his right side. That’s an understandable and effective approach when the quarterback is a dangerous runner like Taulia Tagovailoa. When Anderson could shift the defender to one side, it worked out well for his team.

While Kenny Pickett has the athleticism to escape pressure steered to one side like that last play, Spencer Anderson cannot be on the field for the Steelers if he can’t handle a strong bull-rush. That is the main area he needs to improve on, because outside of that weakness he shows a lot of good traits and technique that suggest he could be an NFL lineman.

It will be a tough road for Anderson to make the Steelers roster, and he will likely need a year or two of work before he could be ready to see the field.

As you can see, Anderson has incredible versatility to play any position on the line, and could turn into a very versatile depth piece in the future. Let’s hope he can take the steps he needs to take to get there.