Vicksburg native Nick Anderson chasing NFL glory on draft weekend
Published 4:05 pm Thursday, April 27, 2023
Nick Anderson was scrolling through his Facebook feed recently when he came across an old picture of himself and a few teammates working out.
They were all high school seniors at the time, preparing for their college football careers, but Anderson was already looking years ahead.
“I was looking on Facebook a couple of days ago, and there was a post from five years ago where it was me, Joseph Johnson, Gabe Douglas and Tyler Wilbert all working out, getting ready to go to college,” Anderson said. “I made a Facebook post that said, ‘I’m working right now, I have the draft in five years.’”
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It’s now five years later and Anderson’s post is proving to be prophetic. After a stellar college career at Tulane, the former Vicksburg High star is hoping to be among the 259 players selected in the 2023 NFL Draft this weekend.
Anderson, a linebacker, is projected as a potential day three pick — somewhere in rounds four through seven — or a free agent signee if he isn’t picked. Wherever he ends up, Anderson said he’s excited about the opportunity to make an NFL roster.
“I’ve talked to some teams that have got me fifth, some have me seventh. Generally, everybody’s response has been ‘We’re going to see,’ because the way the draft goes nobody knows anything for certain until it happens,” Anderson said. “I’m just optimistic about everything. I know for sure I’m going to be on an NFL team somewhere next week. Not a lot of people can say that. I’m in a blessed position.”
One of Anderson’s mantras in life is that to make good things happen, it helps to speak them into existence by believing they will happen. It’s a foundational principle that has served him well.
Anderson played one season at Jones College before going to Tulane, and then helped the Green Wave turn their football fortunes around as a team leader on the defense.
Anderson totaled 275 tackles and 10.5 sacks in four seasons at Tulane. He was also a standout off the field, racking up a number of academic and community service awards from the team and university.
“I really can’t take the credit for it,” Anderson said. “I do my job from the physical standpoint, working my butt off each and every day. But God has done his fair share, undoubtedly, putting me in situations to show my talents and really excel and be the best player and person I can be.”
This past season, Anderson led Tulane to a 12-2 record and the American Athletic Conference championship, just a year after it went 2-10. Tulane beat Southern California and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Caleb Williams in the Cotton Bowl to finish ranked No. 9 in the Associated Press poll.
Anderson said Tulane’s success helped draw attention not only to the program, but its players who are hoping to move on to the pros.
“It played a major role. Most NFL teams, if not all, want somebody that knows how to win. At that level, winning is how you keep your job. Us having the publicity that we’ve had — finishing No. 9 in the nation, winning the Cotton Bowl, beating the Heisman Trophy winner — really just set everybody’s draft stock,” Anderson said.
“We had 32 teams at our pro day. Multiple teams sent their linebacker coaches to work me and Dorian Williams out. They don’t just do that for a team that went .500,” he continued. “I feel like our season last year really gave us the opportunity to get an extra spotlight for the guys trying to go to the NFL.”
Even though the eyes of NFL scouts are upon him, Anderson admits he has one big thing working against him — his size. He’s only 6 feet tall and 230 pounds, a bit on the small side for an NFL linebacker.
A couple of inches of height can be a mile-long leap for a general manager making a draft pick. Anderson’s faith in himself and God, however, has him believing it’ll all work out.
“A lot of people have doubted me in my career because of my measurables. But God has always put me in a situation where I can prove them wrong, and given me real opportunities not a lot of people get,” he said. “I’ve been feeling blessed through this whole process.”
To prepare for the process, Anderson has enlisted the aid of a few people who have walked the path he’s heading down.
Vicksburg natives Malcolm Butler, DeMichael Harris,Ben Brown and Norman Price all signed with NFL teams as undrafted free agents in the past 10 years.
Butler had a celebrated career that included two Super Bowl championships with the Patriots, and Harris played two seasons with the Colts. Price has been on several teams’ preseason rosters and is currently playing for the San Antonio Brahmas of the XFL.
All of them have given Anderson advice about handling the draft process.
“(Butler) was giving me advice on choosing an agent, things to look for,” Anderson said. “He’s always been a friendly guy and helpful. He’s been a positive role model, especially being somebody everybody from Vicksburg looks up to. To be able to call him up and ask for advice because he’s been on that level is amazing.”
Anderson also thanked the city of Vicksburg as a whole for supporting him. He was the king of Vicksburg’s Mardi Gras parade in February.
“Just to feel that love from the city and support, it pushes me and drives me every day to be great because I know I have a lot of people looking up to me and looking for my success,” he said.
Some of them will be with him in New Orleans for a draft day party on Saturday. Anderson knew he wouldn’t be a first-round pick when the draft began Thursday night, and isn’t expecting to get a call during the second and third rounds on Friday, either.
He said his agent planned to be busy late Friday and early Saturday for the final four rounds.
“I’ll be spending time with my family Saturday for day three of the draft. If something happens on day two, then day three is just going to be a celebration day,” he said.
Although Butler, Harris, Price and Brown have all signed as undrafted free agents since 2014, no player from
Vicksburg has been drafted by an NFL team since wide receiver James Williams was Seattle’s sixth-round pick in 2000.
Anderson is hoping to end that two-decade drought, and make who picks him glad they did.
“I’m not really nervous, not really worried. Just anxious and eager to see what team I’m going to be on. When it comes to late-round picks you don’t know how the draft’s going to go. It’s a long three days of waiting,” Anderson said. “I’m really just anxious to see what team wants to invest in Nick Anderson. Whatever team wants to invest in Nick Anderson, I’m going to do my due diligence of giving them everything I can. I’m giving my all to the people who believe in me.”
NFL DRAFT ON TV
Thursday, April 27
6 p.m. ABC/ESPN/NFLN – Rounds 2-3
Friday, April 28
6 p.m. ABC/ESPN/NFLN – Rounds 2-3
Saturday, April 29
11 a.m. ABC/ESPN/NFLN – Rounds 4-7