It is no secret that the Las Vegas Raiders need more playmakers on defense. With three selections in the top 100 of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Silver and Black have a golden opportunity to address the defense. Arkansas’ Drew Sanders presents many unique qualities that should appeal to defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s unit.
Drew Sanders’ background
Drew Sanders was a 5-star high school recruit who was a top-five-rated athlete in Texas and the entire country. He played on both offense and defense and had offers from the following schools:
- Notre Dame
- Penn State
Before Sanders became a Razorback, he was a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide. He played under head coach Nick Saban for two seasons as a rotational outside linebacker and core special teamer. However, he entered the transfer portal in his junior year to become a starter for the ‘Hogs.’ It was a move that would change his fortunes for the better.
Sanders’ elite versatility is his strength
For the Razorbacks in 2022, opposing offenses grew accustomed to the fact that it doesn’t matter where 6-foot-5 230-pound Drew Sanders aligns – he will make a play.
Would love to see Drew Sanders as a Raider.
Versatile, Impact player, Relentless.
— CJ Errickson (@CJE_NFL) January 21, 2023
While Sanders predominantly plays as an off-ball linebacker, he has shown flashes as a player who can get to the quarterback. For the Razorbacks in 2022, he led the team with 9.5 sacks. However, he was a can do it all player who joined an elite company.
Drew Sanders is a heat-seeking missile
Heat-seeking missiles tend to find their targets more often than not, which is no different for the Denton, Texas native. However, his lone season under Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman showed the world that he is genuinely one of the most versatile prospects in quite some time.
Since 2000, only two FBS players have totaled 95 or more tackles with at least 12 tackles for loss, eight sacks, three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception in a single season:
Buffalo LB Khalil Mack (2013)
Arkansas LB Drew Sanders (2022) pic.twitter.com/reS2Sr2TIR
— Razorback Communications (@RazorbackComms) November 21, 2022
He possesses elite athletic ability that assists him in closing in for the finishing touch against opposing ball carriers. Additionally, it helped him in pass coverage as well, as opposing quarterbacks only yielded an 88 QBR rating when targeting Sanders in coverage.
Drew Sanders had 40 pressures, 10 sacks and a 26.7 win rate in 147 pass rush attempts. Thatâ€™s a 27.2% pressure rate and 6.8% sack rate which are absurd
He also allowed a 88 QBR in over 300 coverage snaps
— Tristen Kuhn (@KuhnTristen) January 13, 2023
Moreover, his above-average toughness, mental processing, and hard-hitting tackling ability separate him from many other prospects. The only question remains, would he gel with defensive coordinator Patrick Graham and the Las Vegas Raiders?
Drew Sanders is a special football player the Raiders need…
In conclusion, Drew Sanders, at his core, is a football player. Arkansas’ best defender in 2022 is an individual who is committed to doing whatever it takes to help his team win. Sanders possesses many unique qualities due to his willingness to learn new positions that benefit the team. He would be a valuable addition to the Silver and Black simply due to his elite athletic ability alone. Moreover, the Raiders could use him in red zone offensive packages in a pinch due to his mentality of doing whatever it takes to win.
*Top Photo: Arkansas University Athletic Department