NFL Draft

2019 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Penn State RB Miles Sanders

From now until the 2019 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

Miles Sanders/Penn St RB  – 5’11” 215 lbs.

The Good

– Wields jump cuts, starts/stops with ease, and has very bouncy feet.
– Uses spin moves to break tackles along with an occasional stiff-arm.
– Does a great job getting small in the hole wiggling through with his loose hips where it doesn’t look like his body will fit.
– Anticipates well where the defenders will be and takes good cues from his blockers as where he should run or not run.
– Good leg drive and balance moving the pile while keeping his feet chopping and does not give a big target for defenders to hit.
– Catches the ball well in stride, out in front of his body and demonstrates breakaway speed in the open field.
– Can line up in the backfield,split out, in the slot, or take the direct snap.
– Has kickoff returning experience (38 career returns for 764 yards).

The Bad

– Limited career touches playing behind Saquon Barkley.
– Came up short against the better Big Ten defenses, Ohio State and Michigan, averaging less than 3 yards per touch.
– Has a tendency to leave his feet, which can be a benefit around the goal line, but also makes him quite vulnerable to losing the pigskin while airborne.
– His pass blocking needs work as he attacks off balance and rarely set his feet in those four games I watched him play.
– Sometimes goes to the corner store too much, breaking too many plays outside.


– Consensus number one Pennsylvania prospect by ESPN, Rivals, 247Sports, and Scout.
– Four year starter in high school football and ran the 100, 200, and 4 X 100 in high school track.
– Career statistics of 276 carries for 1,649 rushing yards with 12 touchdowns and caught 32 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown.
– Named second team Big Ten runner.

Tape Breakdown

On a 2nd and 10 deep in Penn State territory, Sanders lines up to the right of his quarterback in the shotgun formation. Once the ball gets snapped, the runner slides his way into the flat as the pocket starts to collapse. This gives Trace McSorley a dump off target. The back catches the pigskin in straide, makes the first defender miss with the quick starting/stopping of his feet. He then races down the sideline showing good burst and created a nine yard gain, when most backs would have finished with a two yard carry.

Late in the first quarter against Wisconsin on a 3rd and 1, the runner lines up to the left of McSorley in the shotgun formation. At the snap, Sanders reads his blockers patiently and sees an opening developing in the outside lane. He jump cuts his way outside avoiding would-be tacklers with a great center of gravity. The back plays leapfrog with a defender attempting a diving tackle, and still manages to dive for an additional couple of yards on that play.

On a 3rd and 7 lined up to the left of his quarterback with three receivers split out to the right, Sanders gets the handoff after the shotgun snap. The back starts his run to the right two gap, and yet bounces back to the zero gap as a sliver has developed on the line of scrimmage. He sinks his hips, gets low, and wiggles away from a defensive end and a linebacker accelerating past the wall of humanity. Then Sanders bounces, racing towards the sideline and eventually runs out of real estate just short of the Badgers 15 yard line. It was his vision, balance, and burst that made that draw into a big play!

Lined up to the right of the McSorley in the shotgun trailing Kentucky late in the 4th quarter, the back steps up to face outside pressure that the tackle doesn’t take. He appears off balance, leaning forward, and lowers his should in only what I could call an attempt to flip the bigger blitzer over. Unfortunately, Sanders acts more like a turnstyle and appears to trip the defender to the ground. While the running back’s effort allows McSorley to get the pass away, he could have been penalized for a trip. Ineffective pass protection keeps talented runners in small roles at the next level.

Projection: Fourth or Fifth Round

Games Watched: Kentucky, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pittsburgh


Previous 2019 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Devin White Dax Raymond Josh Allen Te’von Coney Germaine Pratt
Mack Wilson Amani Oruwariye Josh Oliver Devin Bush Trayvon Mullen
Montez Sweat Mike Edwards Andy Isabella Myles Gaskin Jachai Polite
Daylon Mack Jaylon Ferguson Brian Burns Terrill Hanks Deebo Samuel
Nasir Adderley David Long Oshane Ximines Deshaun Davis Cameron Smith
Parris Campbell Emanuel Hall Tony Pollard N’Keal Harry Deandre Baker
Juan Thornhill Foster Moreau Julian Love Drue Tranquill A.J. Brown
Isaiah Buggs L.J. Scott Taylor Rapp Dre’Mont Jones Tre Lamar
Noah Fant Greedy Williams Marquise Brown Gerald Willis III Terry Godwin
Tyre Brady T.J. Edwards Rock Ya-Sin
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