No. 23, Montana State LB Troy Andersen

The Unpacking Future Packers Countdown is a countdown of 100 prospects that could be selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Troy Andersen might be the most versatile prospect in the 2022 NFL draft. The Montana State product did everything but serve the popcorn during his time in Bozeman.

The native Montana was a three-sport athlete at Beaverhead County High School. During his freshman season at Montana State, Andersen earned Big Sky Freshman of the Year. A season in which he started games at both running back and linebacker. In 2018, Andersen started at quarterback and earned All-Conference honors.

In 2019, Andersen recorded 54 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, one interception and five pass deflections.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Montana State did not have a season in 2020. This past season Andersen earned Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year after recording 137 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, two sacks, two interceptions and seven pass deflections.

Andersen is as versatile as they come. During his collegiate career he started games at running back, quarterback and linebacker. He also punted during his time as a Bobcat.

“I’ve never seen a player like Andersen before in the FCS,” Sam Herder, the Senior FCS Analyst for Hero Sports, said. “To go from a running back / linebacker hybrid to a running quarterback to a LB / Wildcat QB hybrid, to a full-time middle linebacker is wild. To do each one at a high level makes it even more remarkable. As cliche as it is, he’s just a “football player” that has that ability to shine and make his presence known all over the field. “

It was no secret that Andersen is an elite athlete. You don’t just seamlessly switch positions at the collegiate level like Andersen did without being a freak athlete.

Andersen showcased that athleticism at the NFL Scouting Combine when the 6-3, 243-pound linebacker clocked a 4.42 40-yard dash, the fastest of any linebacker. At his pro day, he recorded a shuttle time of 3.99.

“He runs like a deer in the open field and is very fluid in pass coverage,” Herder said. “He is still somewhat raw at the linebacker position since he only played there full time for one year, but his athleticism and instincts made up for that. In the NFL, he’ll get molded into a great linebacker. “

Andersen is an athletic off the ball linebacker. He has world-class sideline-to-sideline speed with plus coverage skills. As a former quarterback, Andersen shows good route awareness in coverage. He does a good job of reading the quarterback’s eyes and breaks quickly on the football. The versatile linebacker is comfortable flipping his hips and running with pass catchers downfield.

“This is what makes Andersen a unicorn,” Herder said. “He is a natural athlete who is not stiff in pass coverage for a guy his size. His speed allowed him to run with top wide receivers when offenses tried to get him on a 1-on-1 wheel-route concept on multiple occasions. ”

As a run defender, Andersen covers a lot of real estate. Andersen takes proper angles to the football and arrives quickly with his closing burst. When he arrives, Andersen delivers a pop. He comes downhill in a blink of an eye and is able to sidestep offensive lineman without losing eyes on the football. His motor runs hot and he’s always around the football.

“Taking on a guard and filling the A or B gap wasn’t necessarily Andersen’s strength in 2021,” Herder said. “He was fine at it, but his biggest impact was more splash plays, sacks, tackles for loss, sideline to sideline tackles. He is better in space against a spread offense rather than a power-run team attacking a defense between the tackles. ”

With his energy, toughness and world-class speed for the position, Andersen has all the tools to be a special contributor team early in his career.

“I think special teams are where Andersen will make his biggest impact early on in his NFL career,” Herder said. “His size and speed will make him a coverage team dynamo. As stated above, he is not a finished product at the linebacker position. Andersen may need one or two years playing special teams, getting spot snaps on defense, and picking up the nuances of the position. But I think he’s going to have a fantastic career when it’s all said and done. “

Fit with the Packers

A team can never have enough playmakers and Andersen is a dynamic linebacker that can impact the game in a variety of ways.

He has the sideline-to-sideline quickness to be a field eraser. With his fluid movement skills and length he can match up with tight ends and running backs in coverage. He has all the traits to be a special teams standout.

“Coaches will salivate when they look at Andersen,” Herder said. “A freak of an athlete whose game can get even better with more coaching and fundamental work. In today’s NFL where a LB has to hold up against the run and also cover, Andersen has the tools to do that. Add to the fact that he was a good student and a model citizen beloved by his home state of Montana, and an NFL team will get an overall prospect that will positively impact their franchise. ”

Andersen’s best football is in front of him. During his time at Montana State he played three different positions and managed to play all three of those positions at an elite level.

The athletic linebacker is still wet behind the ears at the position and is a moldable ball of clay that will only get better as he continues to get more reps at the position.

The Green Bay Packers could stand to upgrade the depth behind the All-Pro linebacker, De’Vondre Campbell. Krys Barnes played nearly 50 percent of the defensive snaps this past season, as he served as the team’s second linebacker.

Brian Gutekunst needs to upgrade that position for defensive coordinator Joe Barry. Andersen could take those snaps from Barnes and provide more of an impact.

The Montana State product could play a vital role in helping Green Bay turn around their special teams while giving Barry’s unit another playmaker and potential cornerstone player.

Andersen is a modern day linebacker. With his athleticism, ability in coverage and his range as a run defender, he offers a unique four-down skillset. If he’s on the board when the Packers are on the clock on day two of the draft, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Gutekunst roll the dice on the versatile linebacker as early as the 53rd pick.

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