2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Miles Sanders, Penn State
Miles Sanders 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profile Scouting Report
Miles Sanders is an interesting case study in how to evaluate prospects. Our general analysis weights breakout age and production as a true freshman as something that is fairly important. When evaluating wide receivers, this task becomes a little easier because no football team ever has just used one wide receiver. In the most extreme circumstances when a future NFL wide receiver plays for a college team, he is still accruing only 40% of his teams passing production. The same is not true of future NFL running backs.
While backing up future first-round pick Saquon Barkley, Sanders saw only 56 carries and eight receptions in his first two college football seasons. That sort of resume would normally leave a running back prospect headed to the CFL or to work at an accounting firm. This is why Sanders is such an interesting case. In his final season at Penn State with Barkley plying his wares in New York, Sanders received 220 carries and totaled 24 receptions. Sanders career yards per carry at Penn State was actually slightly better than Barkley, though Barkley was more than twice as involved as a receiver.
Miles Sanders finished second in the Big Ten in total yards from scrimmage; scored only nine touchdowns but he shared the goalline responsibilities with quarterback Trace McSorley. Sanders was not projected as anything more than a Day Three NFL Draft pick but the combination of his performance at the NFL combine and the poor performance of others has him moving up draft boards. Sanders ran a 4.49 timed 40-yard dash while weighing in at 211 pounds giving him a 75th percentile Speed Score. A fair assessment of Sanders is that he is a decidedly above average athlete but not an outstanding one.
Miles Sanders athleticism does translate well to his #Tape. He doesn't waste much time behind the line of scrimmage, which is a trait that I generally appreciate in college running backs. Once he reaches the second level, he changes directions very well. To be frank, his tape seems more encouraging to me than someone like Josh Jacobs who I don't really "get". The Draft Network handed him a third-round grade, writing "One of the few running backs in the class with all-around potential and a traditional RB1 frame, the NFL should like Sanders as a future starter. His potential on receiving downs could get him on the field early in his NFL career, despite the average usage of him in that area at Penn State." The fact that Sanders handled 24 receptions in his only real season as a starter is pretty encouraging to me and given that I am a fan of his running style, I tend to agree with the third-round tag.
Miles Sanders Final Verdict
It is pretty rare for any running back in this class outside of David Montgomery to generate much excitement from me. Josh Jacobs seem massively overrated, Devin Singletary tested horribly at the combine and in general it is a pretty flat class. Miles Sanders has similar issues to Jacobs in the sense that we have a lack of production to draw upon. However, I weight final season production fairly highly for running backs and Sanders was productive as a junior. Sanders is likely going to be inside my top five of running backs in the next rankings update.
In terms of fit, almost every NFL team could use someone like Miles Sanders given the draft cost is appropriate. A very solid north-south runner who can change direction at the second level is a perfect change of pace running back. The Oakland Raiders, if they choose to pass on Jacobs, could use some fresh legs in the backfield. The Philadelphia Eagles do not have a clear front-runner in the backfield at the moment and Sanders is a good fit there as they segment their backfield out in specific roles.
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