Had Rodney Anderson been healthy he could have easily been the top running back in this year’s NFL Draft. Health has been the problem for the Katy, Texas native though.
Anderson suffered not one, not two, but three season-ending knee injuries while at Oklahoma. When healthy though he was something special. He carried the ball an even 200 times for the Sooners, with an average of 6.4 yards per carry, and caught 17 passes for an average of 16.5 yards per catch.
With only eighteen game appearances (nine starts) in four years at Oklahoma, Anderson posted a remarkable 21 total touchdowns. It’s the flashes of potential in each of his game appearances that put more and more anguish with each injury. The 2015, 2016, and 2018 seasons were all cut shot by the injury bug. Anderson played in just two games in 2015, and two in 2018, with the 2016 season being a total loss.
Each time he went down though, Anderson fought his way back and returned even stronger than before. He entered the 2018 season in the Heisman conversation, following a stellar 2017, but an injury at the end of the first quarter of the UCLA game put the breaks on a season where he was averaging 10.8 yards per carry.
“The teams I’ve spoken with about him—which there’s been many—they’re all talking about a guy that, when healthy, is easily one of the best, if not the best back in this draft,” Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley told 247sports.com on April 23.
That’s where the Cincinnati Bengals come into the picture. They already took a flyer on one Oklahoma running back who had a bunch of question marks around him and it paid big dividends for them. Joe Mixon has averaged 4.3 yards per carry, and scored 12 rushing touchdowns, in his first two seasons with the Bengals. In addition he’s averaging 8 yards per catch out of the backfield with 17 career receptions.
That’s the kind of production a healthy Rodney Anderson can duplicate, and that’s exactly what Cincinnati is hoping for.
“Hopefully he can get in the right situation with somebody that will invest in him,” Riley said before the draft. “And if he’s able to stay healthy, which I think he will, then he can be an absolute game changer for somebody.”
Anderson capped his stellar 2017 season with a 201 yard/2 touchdown performance against Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. That’s the running back the Bengals are drafting and that’s why he could end up being the biggest steal in the entire draft.