2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Drew Sanders

  • Drew Sanders, 6-5/232

  • Linebacker

  • Arkansas

  • Drew Sanders Scouting Report
    By Charlie Campbell

  • Very fast
  • Explosive
  • Lightning bolt getting upfield
  • Closes in a blur
  • Superb get-off and first-step quickness
  • Ability to bend
  • Natural pass rusher
  • Deploys some variety in pass-rushing moves
  • Athletic
  • Length
  • Good in pursuit
  • Capable of lining up at a variety of spots

  • Weaknesses:
  • Needs to get stronger in run defense
  • Lacks physicality
  • Needs to improve the strength of his base
  • Doesn’t play downhill when not rushing the passer
  • Should get stronger to shed blocks
  • One-year wonder
  • Situational player to start?

  • Summary: After being a backup at Alabama for a few years, Sanders transferred to Arkansas for the 2022 season. Immediately, Sanders broke out as one of the top edge defenders in the SEC and was a terror to opposing offenses. He totaled 9.5 sacks, 103 tackles, three forced fumbles and five passes broken up as a Razorback. Sanders then decided to declare for the 2023 NFL Draft.

    Arkansas games in 2022 immediately made apparent how dangerous Sanders was off the edge. He looked capable of sacking the quarterback on any play. Sanders is very explosive off the ball, possessing a lightning-fast first-step and tremendous speed around the corner. He also has the athleticism to dip and weave around blockers while maintaining the speed to close. Aided by his good vision and instincts, Sanders is a natural pass rusher who is a dynamic quarterback hunter.

    Sanders flashes pass-coverage ability, looking smooth in space. He can drop into zone coverage and reads the offense well. With his quickness and athleticism, Sanders covers a lot of ground in a hurry. He will need additional development for pass coverage as a pro, but that is understandable considering he was really only a 1-year starter.

    In run defense, Sanders is good in pursuit and will make tackles downfield. However, strength is the aspect he needs to add for the NFL. Sanders must get tougher at defending downhill runs coming straight at him, grow stronger for shedding blocks in the pass rush, and develop a stronger lower body to maintain his feet. Team sources feel Sanders is not physical and slid into a lot of his run tackles downfield. They wanted to see him be more physical and make more of his run tackles playing downhill.

    Sanders could fit in a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense at the next level. Sources from 4-3 teams say they would have Sanders play Sam – strongside – linebacker on run downs and rush off the edge in passing situations. In that role, Sanders would be like Anthony Barr with the Vikings. Sanders would be a good fit to play 3-4 outside linebacker.

    In the 2023 NFL Draft, Sanders has the potential to get late first-round consideration. He shouldn’t go lower than Round 2.

    Player Comparison: Anthony Barr. In some ways, Sanders compares well to Barr. Both were fast off the edge with the ability to hunt the quarterback. They also were similarly sizes. Barr was stronger and more physical as a run defender, but both are tweener linebacker/defensive ends.


    2023 NFL Mock Draft: Charlie’s | Walt’s

    2023 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings

    2023 NFL Draft Scouting Reports

    2024 NFL Mock Draft - April 9

    NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

    Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19

    NFL Picks - Feb. 12