Alabama Football: How will the Tide deploy its trio of edge rushers?

Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Tim Smith (50) and linebacker Chris Braswell (41) Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Tim Smith (50) and linebacker Chris Braswell (41) Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

It has been constantly reiterated that Will Anderson Jr. and Dallas Turner should combine to be the most formidable pass rushing duo in the nation. Most don’t realize just how deep that position group is for Alabama football.

It is so deep that former 5-star Drew Sanders (class of 2020) transferred to Arkansas this offseason after being surpassed by Turner.

Alabama Football: 5-star surplus

Even with Sanders’ departure, Alabama football boasts two more 5-stars waiting in the wings in Chris Braswell (c/o 2020) and Jeremiah Alexander (c/o 2022). Both are immensely talented and could push their way into the crowded rotation on the edge.

Chris Braswell has elite athletic ability as a slightly undersized pass rusher, and hopes to have a breakout year after being an impactful special teams piece in 2021. Coach Nick Saban has discussed having Braswell join Anderson Jr. and Turner on the field, which could be a nightmare scenario for opposing quarterbacks.

All three played well in the A-Day game, harassing Bryce Young incessantly. Although Anderson Jr. and Turner will probably take the lion’s share of the reps, Coach Saban considers all three to be “starters.”

Alabama Football: Plenty of options for Pete Golding

The trio would likely take the field together on passing downs, particularly in third & long situations as a part of Alabama football’s Dime Rabbits package.

One potential way this could happen is a formation that Alabama football was repping in spring practice. This package features Anderson Jr. and Braswell on either edge, with Dallas Turner playing off the line of scrimmage in a more traditional linebacker role.

Another way I could see this unit deployed is by moving Anderson Jr. inside. This would leave the Tide with two elite pass rushers, Turner and Braswell, on the edge. Anderson Jr., more so than the other two, possesses the size and strength to move to the interior. He occasionally lined up as a down lineman in a 4-point stance in 2021. If Will Anderson Jr.’s speed gives offensive tackles problems on the edge, it makes him a total matchup nightmare on the inside.

Even when Anderson Jr. lines up outside, he is extremely adept at stunting to the inside. His incredible combination of speed and power makes this one of the most effective parts of his game. Alabama could stunt Anderson Jr. to the inside, where he is highly disruptive, and loop somebody like Braswell to the outside. The possibilities are endless given the athleticism of this group.

Next. Be patient...Nick Saban knows what he's doing. dark

However Coach Saban and Pete Golding choose to utilize their edge rushers, we can expect to see the trio on the field together in some passing situations. The speed and raw talent this package gives Alabama football in terms of pressuring the quarterback is something we haven’t seen in years, if ever.