By Charlie Campbell
2023 Season Outlook: After losing excellent running backs Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson to the NFL, Texas could feature more passing in 2023, which should lead to Sanders seeing more targets. He also will face plenty of vulnerable Big XII defenses. His toughest matchup could come in Week 2 against Alabama, with its secondary full of future NFL competitors.
Skill-Set Summary: NFL teams are always on the lookout for mismatch receiving weapons at the tight end position, and Sanders is the type of receiving tight end who offers that potential for the next level. Coming from a pro-style system, Sanders is a great fit to be a mismatch weapon in the middle of the field and a player who can be helpful in producing effective four-point plays in the red zone. Sanders is the type of tight end who is very much en vogue right now in the NFL.
As a receiver, Sanders can do a lot to help his offense. He is a quick route-runner with fluid athleticism to get open in the middle of the field. Sanders has the speed to get down the seam and can accelerate to find soft spots in zone coverage. Helped by his excellent body control and agility, Sanders makes difficult catches, routinely using his big body to box out defensive backs and make leaping grabs over them. Sanders shows no fear of safeties despite knowing that big hits are coming, and will still leave his feet to make acrobatic aerial catches. He is a definite mismatch weapon who will be an asset to make receptions in the end zone over defensive backs.
Sanders flashes some run-after-the-catch ability, but it would be good to see more of that in 2023. It would help him if he got more consistent play out of his quarterbacks that get the ball to him quicker. As a pro, Sanders should be an excellent safety outlet for his quarterback to throw the ball up to him when they get in trouble.
Sanders is not a big tight end, so he could face limitations as a blocker in the NFL. Improving his blocking enough to become capable of producing draws will be a point of emphasis for his pro coaching staff.
If Sanders stays consistent and builds on his 2022 performance, he could end up with NFL teams giving him the grade of a three-down starter heading into the 2024 NFL Draft.
2024 NFL Draft Expectations: Entering the 2023 season, Sanders looks like he could be a prospect for the top half of the 2024 NFL Draft.
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