Last week, Pro Football Focus released their ranking of the top 101 players of 2015, a list that is based on the highest-graded players from the past season. Only one Colts player - inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman - made the list for last year, however, underscoring just how tough of a season it was in Indianapolis.
There was plenty of sub-par play to go around, whether simply due to performance or whether due to injury. One of the most significant injuries was defensive lineman Henry Anderson, who suffered a torn ACL in the team's week nine win over the Denver Broncos.
Today, Pro Football Focus released a list of ten players who have never made a top 101 list but are poised to do so in 2016. Coming in second on the list was Henry Anderson, and here's what Nathan Jahnke wrote about him:
As a third-round rookie, Henry Anderson was on pace to make the Top 101 in 2015 had it not been for a season-ending injury in Week 9. At that point of the season, he was a top-10 3-4 defensive end, with six of the nine players ahead of him at the time ultimately making the Top 101. Anderson stood out the most as a playmaker against the run; his 12.0 run-stop percentage was the second-best for 3-4 defensive ends on the season. Even though he was held to one sack on the year, he was the Colts’ most persistent interior rusher, with a 7.1 pass-rushing productivity. More often than not, defensive linemen improve from year one to year two, so one would hope Anderson is healthy and can build upon his rookie success next season.
PFF also noted that Anderson was second in run stops, tackles, and run-defense grade among 3-4 defensive ends through the first five weeks of the season last year, confirming even more that the defensive end was a tremendous presence against the run last year and was a huge part of the defense.
It's high praise to say that a second-year player who missed half of his rookie season is poised to make a list ranking the best 101 players in the NFL, but during the time he played last year Henry Anderson proved that he belonged and proved that he deserved the hype. Colts owner Jim Irsay even said this offseason that he thinks Andrew Luck and Henry Anderson are "arguably" the team's best two players, placing the second-year defensive end in good company.
It's currently unknown when Anderson will return to the field, as the team isn't placing a timeline on it just yet, but whenever he does return he will be a major factor for the unit. Henry Anderson was terrific in his rookie season before suffering an injury, and the expectations are that he could be even better moving forward.