Drew Sanders, 6-foot-4, 235, runs a 4.59 40 which is fast by inside linebacker standards. Josey Jewell in final year of his contract. Alex Singleton just signed a three-year, $18 million contract. Sanders will give the Broncos a special teamer and quality ILB depth. #9sports— Mike Klis (@mikeklis) April 29, 2023
Drew Sanders is a 6’4, 235-pound linebacker out of Arkansas who ran a 4.59 40-time during the NFL Scouting Combine. He transferred from Alabama this past year and had a breakout season. This past year, he totaled 103 tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss, 9.5 sacks, 1 interception, 5 pass deflections, and 3 forced fumbles. A very productive season for the new member of the Denver Broncos defense.
The Athletic’s draft analyst Dane Brugler had Sanders ranked as his top linebacker in the draft and his 28th overall player in the entire draft. So, according to one of the top draft analysts in the business, the Broncos got themselves a first-round prospect in the third round.
A one-year starter at Arkansas, Sanders played MIKE linebacker in former defensive coordinator Barry Odom’s 4-2-5 base scheme, also seeing snaps as an edge rusher. A five-star “athlete” out of high school, he spent two seasons at Alabama before betting on himself and flourishing as a transfer at Arkansas in 2022, becoming just the eighth unanimous All-American in school history (the first linebacker). A long, lean athlete, Sanders is cunning and agile with the instincts of both an off-ball player and pass rusher. He posted impressive numbers as a first-year starter, but there were too many “almost” tackles on tape, and he left production on the field with his tendency to overpursue (had 3-plus missed tackles in five games in 2022). Overall, Sanders must become a more skilled tackle finisher and take-on player, but he offers intriguing versatility as a “do-everything” front-seven defender thanks to his size and athletic range. He is an ascending player with the talent to be a matchup linebacker and occasional pass rusher in the NFL.
Sanders will now join a Broncos defense that already has veteran Josey Jewell and the recently re-signed Alex Singleton at linebacker. Jewell is in the final year of his contract so Sanders is likely viewed as his eventual replacement. He is more than just an off-the-ball linebacker, he can assist in the pass rush game. He was a former edge rusher at Alabama and transitioned inside at Arkansas but still had 9.5 sacks.
I love this pick and I think the Broncos got themselves a damn good player here in Sanders. I just wonder if this means that Josey Jewell is now on the trade block?
How would you grade the Broncos selection of linebacker Drew Sanders?
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