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Anfernee Orji Scouting Report | Vanderbilt LB | 2023 NFL Draft

Anfernee Orji Scouting Report | Vanderbilt LB | 2023 NFL Draft

Player Bio

Anfernee Orji’s road to the 2023 NFL Draft began at Rockwall High School in Rockwall, Texas, where he was a four-sport athlete and four-star safety prospect in the Class of 2019. While at Rockwall, Orji earned varsity letters in football, basketball, wrestling, and track & field; played viola in the school orchestra; and was class president for all but one year during high school.

Orji had a breakout season for Rockwall as a sophomore, collecting 96 tackles and becoming the 2016 Region 11-6A defensive newcomer of the year. After the season, Orji received his first scholarship offer from Arkansas in December 2016.

Before Orji’s junior season, he performed well enough on the camp circuit to garner scholarship offers from Vanderbilt, Baylor, Utah, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Colorado. In 2017, Orji recorded 84 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, three interceptions, and six pass breakups in a 6-6 season. Orji earned all-district honors for his performance on the season, establishing himself as one of the best defensive prospects in the district.

Going into his senior season, Orji received additional offers from SMU, Minnesota, Auburn, UCLA, and Purdue during the spring recruiting period. However – on July 3rd, 2018 – Orji pledged his commitment to Vanderbilt, where he would join forces with his older brother, Alston, who started at linebacker for the Commodores from 2018-2020.

In his final high school season, Orji posted 94 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two interceptions, three pass breakups, and one forced fumble as a senior co-captain.

In total, Orji accumulated 274 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, interceptions, nine pass breakups, and two forced fumbles.

As a true freshman at Vanderbilt in 2019, Orji gained 20 pounds and made a permanent position change to inside linebacker appeared in nine games. Now 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, Orji appeared in nine games and contributed on defense and special teams. On the season, Orji collected six tackles and one pass breakup.

During the 2020 campaign, Vanderbilt had its season reduced to nine games due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and finished the season with a 0-9 record. Despite the winless season, Orji had a breakout campaign for the Commodores, as he started all nine games and led the team in total tackles. Overall, Orji recorded 66 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble, and two pass breakups.

In his first season under new Head Coach Clark Lea in 2021, Orji emerged as one of the most productive linebackers in the SEC. For the second straight season, Orji started in all 12 games for the Commodores and led the team in total tackles. Orji capped his junior campaign with 93 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble, and one pass breakup, and finished 12th in the SEC in total tackles.

In Orji’s fourth and final season at Vanderbilt, he started all 12 games for the third-straight season and served as a co-captain for the Commodores in a 5-7 campaign. Prior to the season, Orji was named to the Bednarik and Butkus Award Watch Lists and received Preseason All-SEC recognition from Phil Steele.

Orji backed up all the off-season hype with the best statistical season of his collegiate career. He finished the season with 108 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, one interception, two pass breakups, and three forced fumbles, and earned Second Team All-SEC for the first time.

In 42 career games at Vanderbilt, which included 33 starts across four seasons, Orji accumulated 272 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, four sacks, one interception, six pass breakups, and five forced fumbles.

After the 2022 season, Orji participated in the 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl and the 2023 NFL Combine.

Scouting Report

At 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, Anfernee Orji possesses elite speed and athleticism for the inside linebacker position. With a 4.53 40-yard dash, 38.5-inch vertical, and 4.43 shuttle, Orji is a true sideline-to-sideline linebacker who boasts excellent reactionary athleticism, range, and burst/acceleration.

Orji’s strong athletic profile provides him with terrific straight-line speed, burst-to-close, and lateral mobility, which impact his tackling production, coverage ability, and pass-rushing acumen.

Orji’s tackling production is supported by his high motor and physical play style. He is incredibly active and operates with urgency on every snap. He utilizes his speed and effort to range across the field and pursue ball carriers from the backside. Additionally, Orji is a scrappy tackler who looks to create turnovers by ripping and clawing at the ball.

Orji possesses proficient man and zone coverage ability. With a fluid change of direction and good instincts, Orji can cover the hook/curl and flat areas of the field at a high level.

As a pass rusher, Orji times his blitzes well and attacks the line of scrimmage with great downhill speed. Despite only recording four sacks during his time at Vanderbilt, Orji has a nice bend and underappreciated use of hands to pressure the quarterback.

Orji does possess some negative qualities that lead to concerns about his efficacy as an NFL linebacker; He has inconsistent read & react ability, vision, and recognition of blocking schemes in the running game. Orji struggles to diagnose run concepts before they develop, which is understandable considering that he has only been a full-time inside linebacker for three years. There is also some inconsistency with Orji’s overall play strength at the point of attack, especially when offensive linemen reach the second level. He should improve his stack-and-shed ability to become a more productive sideline-to-sideline linebacker.

Orji’s positive qualities should outweigh his short list of concerns. His overall athleticism, tackling production, coverage ability, and pass-rushing ability are simply too impressive to ignore. Plus, he possesses tons of experience on special teams and has the potential to carve out a niche for himself as a core special teamer at the next level.

After a strong performance at the NFL Combine, Orji likely positioned himself to be selected on the third day of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Draft Projection

Mid 5th-Late 6th

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