The NY Jets made an under-the-radar addition that could have ramifications a few months from now on Wednesday signing former Dallas Cowboys fifth-round pick Bradlee Anae to a reserve/futures contract.
The signing didn't garner much fanfare, as was to be expected given that it was a low-profile transaction made on a Wednesday afternoon, but this isn't a move that should be overlooked.
Anae isn't just some random former practice squad player. At one point not too long ago, he was considered to be a potential Day 2 pick who surprisingly fell to the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
It's a surprise to see how quickly he flamed out in Dallas, but there are reasons to believe that this unheralded signing could pay dividends for the Jets down the line.
Who is new NY Jets pass rusher Bradley Anae?
A native of Hawaii, Anae attended the University of Utah where he went on to have a prestigious career being named first-team All-Pac-12 in both 2018 and 2019 and a Consensus All-American in 2019.
He was a favorite of the draft community and his stock shot up following a dominant performance at that year's Senior Bowl. Anae set a new school record with 30 sacks in three years as a starter and seemed to have the traits that would translate to the NFL level.
Unfortunately, his career never got going in Dallas. Anae was saddled with one of the worst defensive coordinators in the NFL as a rookie in Mike Nolan and failed to make much of an impact, partially due to a deep crop of pass rushers ahead of him on the depth chart.
When Nolan was fired after just one season, Cowboys fans hoped that new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn would be able to unlock Anae's potential in 2021. That never happened, however, with Quinn opting to give more experienced veterans the majority of playing time.
Anae has played in just 11 games through two seasons receiving a grand total of 56 defensive snaps. Opportunities have been few and far between for the former Utah standout, but his skill set just screams "Robert Saleh guy."
At 6-foot-3, 257 pounds, Anae lacks the athleticism and length needed to be a star at the NFL level. He's a below-average athlete with below-average physical traits which is why he dropped as far as he did in the draft.
But what Anae lacks in athleticism he makes up for with his technical refinement and work ethic. Few edge rushers in the 2020 draft class were as technically developed as a pass rusher as Anae was.
His failure to receive playing time in Dallas seems like it had more to do with a lack of opportunities due to a stacked defensive line than anything, not to mention two coaches that preferred veterans over young players.
Bradlee Anae is a high-energy, high-effort, refined pass rusher who could push for a roster spot this summer. Think of him as another Ronnie Blair-type player or a Bryce Huff-like prospect.
He's a Robert Saleh type, and that could allow him to make an impact next season.