For years, many fans have hoped the Denver Broncos would draft a linebacker during the draft and this year, they finally got their wish. In the third round, with their 67th overall selection, the Denver Broncos selected linebacker Drew Sanders.
Denver Broncos select Arkansas LB Drew Sanders with 67th pick in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft https://t.co/rQ7HOcSruM— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) 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.
Many analysts had Sanders ranked as their top linebacker in the draft, but the Broncos were able to get him in the third round. So, why did the Broncos select him in the third round? Well, it was a move for the future and to add some much-needed athleticism to that position. Veteran Josey Jewell is entering the final year of his deal and has dealt with injuries during his career, so Sanders provides depth right now while also giving them an eventual replacement down the road. It also gives the Broncos a core special teamer in the short term as well as a player who can get after the quarterback.
His speed and athleticism are a much-needed addition to the Broncos' linebackers. Neither Josey Jewell nor Alex Singleton is really known for their athleticism, but Sanders brings that along with his size and range as well.
Sanders was an edge player while at Alabama, but when he transferred to Arkansas, they moved him to inside linebacker and that is where he will stay with the Broncos according to head coach Sean Payton.
Sean Payton on Drew Sanders: “Sanders vision (might have) varied around the league because he ... played some OLBer, played ILBer. He had a ton of pressure production last yr. Our vision for him is of an ILBer, 4-core STeams player who can step down to the outside.’’ #9sports— Mike Klis (@mikeklis) April 29, 2023
So, it remains to be seen what role Sanders has on defense this upcoming year, but his versatility as a linebacker and rusher will likely get him on the field at some point. However, as Payton said, he will be a core special teamer on a unit that Payton and the Broncos put an emphasis on improving,
I really liked this pick and expected Sanders to go either in the late first round or early second round. I was surprised to see linebackers like Jack Campbell selected well before him, but their miss will be the Broncos' gain. He is still learning the position, so his rookie year will be for growth, but down the road, the Broncos may have a good one here in Drew Sanders.