INDIANAPOLIS — Pro Football Focus began grading NFL players at each position starting with the 2006 season.
Since that time, the organization has seen many, many talented rookie defensive ends on its screens — guys like Sheldon Richardson, the 2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year; J.J. Watt, an eventual three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year; and Leonard Williams, the sixth-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft who really started to figure it out in his second season, earning a Pro Bowl nod with 68 tackles and seven sacks.
All three of those players put in impressive first-year campaigns.
And Henry Anderson's rookie year was right up there with them.
Anderson in 2015 received an overall grade of 81.6 from PFF, which is right up there with Watt (87.7), Richardson (86.5) and Williams (85.4). But after showing loads of promise for the first two-thirds of his first year, only to see it end prematurely due to a torn ACL, Anderson has since been hampered at times by the injury bug, and the team has only seen glimpses here or there of that potential:
So in 2017, Anderson hopes a clean bill of health will allow him to get back on the same career trajectory he began to establish for himself his rookie year.
"I feel good, and hopefully all the injuries are kind of in the past now and I can kind of be injury-free for as long as possible," Anderson told reporters in April. "I am definitely looking forward to being out there 100 percent and playing like I know I can and being a playmaker and making plays. I am excited."
A third-round pick by the Colts in 2016 out of Stanford, Anderson showed from the start that he could be a consistent playmaker for the Indy defensive line. In his rookie year, he played in 11 games total and had 15 tackles, one fumble recovery, five quarterback hits and two passes defensed.
Though those numbers might not necessarily scream "Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate," it was what Anderson was doing that wasn't really getting logged in the stat sheet that had those across the league impressed by big No. 96.
According to PFF](https://www.profootballfocus.com/pro-henry-anderson-hoping-for-return-to-his-strong-rookie-2015/), Anderson in 2015 was the second-best defensive end in the NFL — that's among all DEs playing in both the 4-3 or 3-4 base defense — at run-stop percentage (12.0), which is calculated by taking the total number of stops and then dividing it by the number of snaps a player had in which a run play was executed.
And, prior to his knee injury Week 9 of the 2015 season, Anderson "was ranked in the top five in tackles (second), defensive stops (third), and QB hurries (fifth) by a 3-4 DE," according to PFF's Michael Manning.
Anderson hoped to be able to be at 100 percent in his recovery by Week 1 of the 2016 season, but his return to the field didn't quite play out that way. He would return by Week 3 against the San Diego Chargers, logging three tackles and a quarterback hit, but he would continue to be hampered by more problems — this time in his other knee — throughout the year, and finished the year having played in 11 games and posting 15 tackles, five quarterback hits, two passes defensed and he also logged his first-career fumble recovery.
Anderson was still solid against the run in 2016, however, and hopes to put it all together in 2017 for a Colts' defensive front that has undergone a major transformation this season under new general manager Chris Ballard. Newcomers to the unit include Margus Hunt, Johnathan Hankins, Al Woods and fourth-round draft pick Grover Stewart.
"I think overall it was a good start my rookie year, and I felt like I was improving on my weaknesses throughout that year which was why it was tough getting it cut short," Anderson said. "Then last year was obviously very frustrating and just nagging injuries that I have to learn how to play through those a little bit better. I don't know, it was frustrating but at the same time I am really excited to get back out there fully healthy. I am going to be over a year removed from my ACL (injury), which is obviously good. I have a lot more confidence in that knee now so I am definitely very excited to be back healthy again and playing."
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