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Bradlee Anae signs with Jets


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Cowboys draft pick Bradlee Anae signs with Jets after not finding favor in Dallas

The former star Ute will try his hand for Robert Saleh and Gang Green in 2022

Patrik Walker
2 hrs ago2 min read

getty images

One thing is always constant in the NFL, and that's attrition. Bradlee Anae is discovering this reality for the first time in his young career, having been waived by the Dallas Cowboys in early November before going unclaimed and re-signing to the team's practice squad -- where he remained the rest of the season. With the Cowboys now eliminated from the playoffs, Anae's practice squad contract expires, and he's decided to take his talents north, signing with the New York Jets on Wednesday, per his agent. 

Anae, 23, is a 2020 fifth-round draft pick of the Cowboys who entered the league with a ton of promise after making a name for himself at the University of Utah. A Morris Trophy winner and consensus First-Team All-American in 2019, as well as a two-time First-Team All-Pac 12 honoree in 2018 and 2019, there's a very high ceiling on Anae that never materialized in Dallas.

That was likely for several reasons, from his first defensive coordinator being Mike Nolan -- who led an abysmal defensive effort that led to his firing one year later -- to having to prove himself to Dan Quinn in a rotation that featured no shortage of talented pass rushers, e.g., Randy Gregory, DeMarcus Lawrence, Micah Parsons, Dorance Armstrong, etcetera. 

He leaves the Cowboys having played in only 50 defensive snaps in two seasons. 

Anae now gets a fresh start with another one of the more talented defensive minds in Jets head coach Robert Saleh, and can also be a special teams contributor as well for Gang Green. The young linebacker improved every single season in his four years at Utah, going from a freshman year with only two sacks, to seven as a sophomore, then 7.5 as a junior, before exploding with 13 as a senior. 

"I'm just a playmaker overall," he said after his selection by the Cowboys in 2020. "My strong suits would probably be my work ethic and my ability to make plays -- be productive."

The former Ute can operate as either a 4-3 rusher off the edge or in a three-man front, and that flexibility is also what likely attracted Saleh to him this offseason. And as the Jets work to try and build on what turned into a competitive first season under Saleh, they'll do so with the hopes of making Anae a feature in their defense, assuming he can get back to the form witnessed in his days at Utah.



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5 minutes ago, NIGHT STALKER said:

Have to be honest, never heard of him.

He was talked about as a later round flyer.  Was thought of quite favorably by some, and when he kept going undrafted, a few were piping up about him.  Good that JD is already looking at taking flyers.  That is what you have to do.  That, and draft well.

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Pretty sure he had a huge Senior Bowl week.  I remember him generating a lot of buzz when he came out.

Edit -- found it online.  3 sacks in the Sr Bowl:

SALT LAKE CITY — Bradlee Anae made himself comfortable in the opponent’s backfield during the Senior Bowl on Saturday.

The former Utah pass rusher had three sacks for the North in their 34-17 victory over the South team at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, while also forcing an interception.

“He did a great job,” Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia told NFL.com of Anae’s performance. Patricia coached the North team. “He’s really improved. We’ve gone over a lot of things with him from a pass rush standpoint, from a technique standpoint, and he tried to take all that (to the game). He’s got a great gift, a great ability to rush the edge.”



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11 minutes ago, ElBarrioJets said:

Seems like a prototypical 3-4 OLB.

Unless he's slimming down to play LB or bulking up to play DE, I don't see where he fits here. 

I think he projects as a weakside end in our scheme - coming off the bench in pass-rushing situations.

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13 minutes ago, Lith said:

He did a great job,” Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia told NFL.com of Anae’s performance. Patricia coached the North team. “He’s really improved. We’ve gone over a lot of things with him from a pass rush standpoint, from a technique standpoint, and he tried to take all that (to the game). He’s got a great gift, a great ability to rush the edge.”


Praise from Matt Patricia... 


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1 hour ago, Ecuadorian Jet said:

I am very happy about this. He was one of the most interesting developmental prospects. I hope that it was a matter of not getting enough opportunities with the players already on the roster. Hopefully, we can find a gem in him. 


He should be familiar with sacking Zach lol...  Nice to see Zach stepping up in the pocket for that sack, maybe that's why he's running backwards now. I kid, but that's one thing I hope he gets worked out by next year.

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2 hours ago, kdels62 said:

Meh. Didn’t like him coming out and his limited athleticism should temper expectations. Dude ran a 4.9 at 255 lbs. 



Was going to mention this as well.  Here's another "visual representation".  Awful 3-Cone time for an EDGE rusher.  



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1 hour ago, jetswinbaby! said:

Zuniga 2.0...

Nah.  Zuniga at least had athleticism.  He's more like Jachai Polite.  Decently productive collegiate EDGE guy whose skills don't translate to the pros. 

In Anae's final year at Utah he recorded 13 sacks and 1 FF.  Polite had 11 sacks and 6 FF's.  

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6 minutes ago, Bungaman said:

Well, let's see if the Ute can play football. The guy with the biggest d@#k isn't necessarily the best lover. Or so I've heard ... 😁


Well, 1 franchise already seems to have determined he can't play football, so I obviously have my doubts.

And yeah, while athletic ability obviously isn't ALL it takes to play this game, at no position does athleticism matter more than it does at EDGE.  Very rarely does an average athlete (for NFL standards) like Anae or a slug like Polite make it in this league. 

DeMarcus Lawrence was one of the few guys who bucked that trend, but it was short-lived.  He had 2 Pro Bowl, 10+ sack seasons in 2017-18.  But since then he has only recorded a total of 14.5 sacks over the last 3 seasons combined.

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low-risk signing...fwiw, here is a draft profile.


Bradlee Anae ER/DE Utah

by Drew Boylhart • February 4, 2020

Bradlee has the size and athletic talent teams look for in a Defensive End or Edge Rusher. He has excellent physical stamina pushing himself to his maximum on every play. He does a good job against the run and when he is one on one, pass-rushing he is outstanding getting into the backfield with a variety of hand moves and speed. Bradlee takes pride in his play and his explosion off the line of scrimmage at the snap of the ball is as good as it gets. He can bend around the corner and his speed puts offensive tackles at a disadvantage on third and long downs. Bradlee can drop off the line if you need him to but his strength is in attacking the line of scrimmage and getting into the backfield for sacks, pressures and making tackles for losses against the run.

Mentally, Bradlee has a lot of improvement to become the player his overall athletic talent suggests he can become. When he is singled up against offensive lineman on passing downs he has all the moves and athletic talent that anyone could ask for but, as soon as he is double-teamed he struggles big time. He struggles because sometimes he is “surprised” at the blocking scheme, doesn’t know how to defeat the double team, and seems to get frustrated and forgets to continue to use the excellent techniques that he has practiced so hard to attain. The “surprise” part of this statement is the most shocking part to me. You can’t be an effective pass rusher at the next level if you have no idea on any given play how a team is likely to block you. By the way, could someone please teach this kid how to do a spin move? He has to be the worse at trying to do that move against an opponent that I have ever seen.

For Bradlee it all comes down to the mental part of the game. I have this saying when negotiating a business deal to your advantage. You have to understand the other side of the table before you can negotiate a deal in your favor. I don’t think Bradlee has thought about his moves any further than dealing with an offensive lineman one on one. He is surprised on third and long as to where a double team is coming from and looks lost. He struggles when its an offensive lineman who helps out or when it’s a running back chipping him. He seems surprised and is off-balance almost every time it happens. I like this kids’ athletic talent, size, strength, and physical stamina but mentally, he scares the crap out of me. Right now, he is a better athlete and has impacted because of that but, at the next level someone is going to have to bring him over to the offensive side of the ball and teach him down and distance, and blocking assignments and pray he will bring that information with him from the practice field to the game. That being said, he has excellent talent and well worth the effort it will take to get him to impact with his mind as well as his talent and in this draft just might be over-drafted and rated higher than I have him rated. He’s another player in this draft who reminds me of former Bills 2001, 2nd RD Draft pick, Aaron Schobel


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