When the Dallas Cowboys selected Bradlee Anae in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, it was met with excitement. Many were clamoring for the Cowboys to take the Utah pass rusher a couple of rounds earlier, but values with Neville Gallimore and Reggie Robinson proved too good to pass up.
By the time the Cowboys made Anae the 179th player selected back in April, they found themselves with arguably the steal of the draft. However, with a preseason that was wiped out by COVID-19 and some really nice depth among the edge group, it's been difficult for Anae to get on the field.
This might be the week we see an extended run for Bradlee Anae with the defense.
According to reports this week, DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory have missed practice due to an illness. Both have returned to practice, and both are expected to play on Sunday when the Cowboys face the Minnesota Vikings. If Lawrence or Gregory are limited due to the illnesses, it will provide an excellent opportunity to see Anae get some more run.
He's only played six snaps this season. For reference, that's 176 snaps fewer than Dorance Armstrong and 71 fewer than Randy Gregory. Anae and Gregory have both been active for three games this season. Tyrone Crawford, who moonlights as both an interior defensive lineman and an edge player, has played 79 snaps on the edge this season.
In his limited opportunity, Anae had three pass-rush snaps and collected one quarterback hit. He looked like he could hold up in the run game as well.
Sure the depth that the Dallas Cowboys have at the edge position will make it difficult to get Anae on the field, but the Cowboys need to find a way. In a season like this one, it's important to know what you have with your younger players, especially those selected outside of the top 100 in the NFL Draft.
As we're seeing with Neville Gallimore, who appears to be developing before our very eyes, it's important to get players on the field to develop them. There's an adjustment that has to take place coming from college football to the NFL game, and that adjustment is only made more difficult by a lack of snaps.
Though they have Bradlee Anae under contract for the next several years, it's important not to wait until next year to give him the snaps to evaluate his play properly. Hopefully, by next year the Cowboys are back to being a legitimate NFL contender. If in 2021, the Cowboys are a contender, the defensive staff will be less likely to play a guy if they don't feel comfortable putting him on the field.
The Cowboys are still technically in the thick of the NFC East race, though that looks like a crown nobody wants to wear. 2020 looks like a lost season. It's time to see what you have on your roster and if those players can help you in 2021. Bradlee Anae is a player that needs more snaps moving forward. It's beyond time to give him an extended run.