Florida State Senior
Has tall frame with long arms. Stays low on his set up and is able to get depth against speed. Plays with his hands high and tight for the most part. Does a nice job using his hands to get inside position as a run blocker. Can jolt the defender at the point of attack and lock on there. Gets position on the edge and can make the seal to allow the back to turn the corner. Has a decent punch when he's able to make the kick-out block. Gets good position when blocking laterally, capable on the stretch play as he's able to wall off the backside pursuit. Is a capable cut blocker. Does a nice job getting position on the second level and can lock onto the linebacker there.
Gives up too much ground to the power rusher and needs to play with better balance and base. Struggles at times to stay square against speed, able to get beat to the outside. Needs to do a better job initiating contact in pass protection as he lets defenders get into him and jolt him back off the snap. Lacks ideal pop off the snap, will take a false step and won't really show much power as a run blocker. Tends to have to gear up when he's trying to deliver a punch on the kick-out block, which allows the end to get upper hand and get leverage at the point. Needs to play with better leg drive. Tends to duck his head at times and gets overextended as a run blocker.
Sanders has good size and athleticism, and is an experienced and productive starter. He played predominantly on the right side, but over the past two seasons had to fill in for an injured Andrew Datko at the left side. This past year, he got his most extensive work on the left side. While he possesses enough athleticism to be an effective left tackle in some schemes, he's at his best playing on the right side and working in a zone-blocking scheme. He's not a powerful player, but he's a capable technician that can win with smarts.
2011 GAMES WATCHED:
(10/22) vs. Maryland: 1 key block; 1 pressure; Downfield: 2/2
(11/3) at Boston College: 1 key block; Downfield: 2/3; Cut: 1/2; 1 penalty (false start)
(12/29) vs. Notre Dame: 1 pressure; Downfield: 1/1, Cut: 1/1; 1 penalty (false start)
2011: 13 GP/13 GS, 7 at LT, 6 at RT
2010: 14/14, 13 at RT, 1 at LT
2009: 13/12, right tackle
2008: 13/11, 10 at RT, 1 at LT
Sanders is a good fit in a zone-blocking scheme on the right side. For that reason, I would compare him to a player like Ryan Harris, formerly of the Broncos. Harris eventually played his way out of Denver, thanks in part due to injuries, but under Mike Shanahan's offense was a solid bookend to Ryan Clady. I think Sanders has that sort of potential. He can be a good starter in such a scheme, but won't be a great starter. If a team was forced to plug him in at left tackle, he could be competent, but I don't think any team should plan to develop him there. He's more the type of guy that you can move over there if your starter goes down for a couple of games, but not a viable long-term solution really. He might be competent if he played in a pure zone-blocking scheme like Houston's, where he could offer similar value to Duane Brown. But while Brown had his fair share of hiccups early in his career, he's gone on to develop into a solid starter. I'm not sure Sanders will really hit that phase as a left tackle. He's just not nearly the athlete that Brown was, although Sanders is a good athlete. He's a player that at the very least if he doesn't develop into a good starter can make a solid swing tackle. But I do think he'll eventually find a role as a starter, but like Harris may not be the caliber of starter that a team will commit to long-term. And he might become a journeyman similar to a player like Ephraim Salaam, who did eventually get some looks as a left tackle in zone-blocking schemes later in his career after leaving Atlanta.
Ephraim Salaam, formerly Texans.
Sanders can compete for the Falcons left tackle spot, but he doesn't really present a major upgrade over Baker even if he does develop. While he's a bit more physical, like Baker he's not really going to be a great run blocker in a man-blocking scheme. And while the Falcons will probably use more zone-blocking under Dirk Koetter, Sanders like Baker really requires a pure zone-blocking scheme to be most effective. Instead, in Atlanta he's more likely to be a good swing tackle, but won't be a long-term solution at left tackle. More as a guy that can come in right away, provide some competition but be a backup as a rookie. In his second year, he's good enough to compete for and potentially win the job over a stopgap veteran like Svitek but within a year or two the Falcons will still likely be seeing left tackle as a high priority.
Sanders is a solid pickup for a zone-blocking team that needs a right tackle. While his lack of elite upside probably means he's a better value in the third round, he would not be a huge reach for a needy team at the end of the second.
1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite
Pass Blocking: 5.5
Run Blocking: 6.5
Mean Streak: 5.5
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.