NFL DRAFT PROFILE: Drew Sanders LB/Arkansas

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Photo Credit: Nick Wenger

Drew Sanders

  • Position: LB
  • School: Arkansas
  • Class: Junior
  • Height: 6-5
  • Weight: 235

Background

  • Former Alabama transfer (2020 National Championship Team)
  • 5-Star Recruit by 247 Sports
  • #1 ranked HS Player in the state of Texas
  • #1 ranked Athlete Nationally
  • 2022 Season: 103 total tackles, 9.5 sacks, three FFs, one INT

 

Strengths

  • Excellent physical profile and athleticism
  • Sideline-to-sideline range is solid, usually takes good angles in pursuit
  • Sound instincts in the run game, disengages well and rarely loses track of the ball in the backfield
  • Violent handwork and very skilled in how he sets up tight ends and tackles in his pass rush
  • Has unique bend and ability to flatten out off the edge for a linebacker, using his “high-cut” frame
  • Transferring power to speed is no issue in pass rush, as he routinely punches first to the point, snatches, and explodes to the QB
  • Athleticism and instincts make him a dependable weapon in coverage, long arms, doesn’t seem phased by misdirection, and looks fluid changing directions
  • Works through traffic and shows great anticipation when tracking the ball carrier
  • Holds his own between the tackles surprisingly well when asked to take on Guards 

 

Weaknesses   

  • Plays too high, too often! Good tackler overall, but more of a violent shoulder tackler
  • Doesn’t consistently breakdown, and will give up easy ones
  • Plays too fast at times and will overrun plays
  • Functional strength at the point of attack, when he can’t disengage is when some concerns come into play
  • Pass rush arsenal is still a work in progress and will get hung up in grappling and blow lanes

 

Overview 

Sanders made the move from playing off-ball at Alabama, to on-ball at Arkansas and didn’t appear to miss a beat as a playmaker. Outside of Clemson’s Trenton Simpsonhe may be the best natural athlete at the LB position in this class. Not the genetic freak that Simpson is, but bigger and has a better combination of size/athleticism. A throwback traditional MLB that brings significant pass rush value, sideline-to-sideline range, a willingness to take on Guards at 235 lbs, and the ability to drop in coverage. For teams that still run a lot of “Tampa-2,” or plan on it, Sanders could be the prototypical “Mike” in that scheme. Versatile enough to be used as a weapon within the box in odd fronts has displayed the skillset to rush from the 2-or 3-point stance, and in my opinion, he can play as the middle in a 4-3 or any one of the positions of need in a 3-4. I currently have Sanders as my 33rd overall prospect on the board, but between now and the end of April, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him skyrocket into the Top 15-20 picks.

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Senior Draft Writer, and Scout for the EASTWESTFOOTBALLNETWORK, GM & Scouting student with Sports Management World Wide.