2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Myjai Sandersby Mason Thompson March 25, 2022 1 comment
Following a fantastic 2020 season, Myjai Sanders elected to return to Cincinnati for his senior season. While the stats may not dictate it, Sanders had a great season for the Bearcats, on their way to a College Football Playoff semi-final appearance. He posted his lowest sack total since his freshman season with 2.5, making his seven-sack season in 2020 a bit peculiar. Fortunately for Sanders, the stats don’t tell the full story. He was a consistent disruptor and had plenty of pressures throughout the season for the Bearcats, forcing the opposing quarterback to step up into the pocket, which could lead to another player recording the sack.
The edge-rusher class is fantastic, with Aidan Hutchinson, Travon Walker, Kayvon Thibodeaux, and Jermaine Johnson going in the top ten picks. With that said, players like Sanders, who can be found on day two, will also provide an impact from their rookie season and be a value selection for whichever team selects him.
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Name: Myjai Sanders
Jersey: No. 21
Position: EDGE Rusher
Weight: 230 lbs
Games Watched: Notre Dame (2021), South Florida (2021), Temple (2021), Alabama (2021)
Major Injury History: None
Pass Rush Skills (12.75/15)
Sanders has a wide disposal of pass-rush moves that he uses regularly. He has a rip-and-dip and swim move that he typically wins with, but he also has a nasty spin move that seemed to come out of nowhere here and there. He typically wins right from the snap of the ball and can leave offensive tackles in the dust and come up with nothing in their hands as Sanders is bearing down on the quarterback.
As stated already, Sanders is uber-fast for an edge-rusher and can leave offensive lineman in the dust. He uses his explosiveness to his advantage and can win easily from the snap of the ball. With his explosiveness as quick as it is, the offensive linemen have to get into their pass sets almost immediately, and Sanders gets them off rhythm and can manipulate them.
First Step (9.75/10)
Sanders has an explosive first step that immediately puts pressure on offensive tackles to decide where they want to move him. Sometimes, it seemed as though he would jump the snap and was called for being offsides on at least two plays in the four games watched. He seems to time the snap well, but if he continues to guess when the snap will be at the next level, opposing quarterbacks will take advantage of this time and time again.
Sanders plays a bit too high as a pass-rusher to have above-average bend. He is more of a speed-rusher than a technician, and as a result, his track to the quarterback takes a bit longer. Sanders is not much of a bendy athlete and wins because of his speed and explosiveness.
Hand Usage (8.25/10)
Sanders typically uses his hands well at the top of his pass-rush move. He uses a push-and-pull technique to get better leverage on the offensive tackle. While Sanders does use his hands a lot at the top of his pass-rush moves, he doesn’t necessarily have enough power to continuously be a factor on the interior.
Sanders is continuously trying to get to the quarterback, whether he be double-teamed by offensive linemen or the quarterback be on the other side of the field. He always tries to get after the quarterback and can rip through double-teams if he tries hard enough with the right pass-rush move. Sanders rarely leaves the field and was always one of the vocal leaders on a Bearcats defense that had Darrian Beavers, Ahmad Gardner, and Coby Bryant.
Sanders is a bit inconsistent in this regard. There are times he has no problems and can take a running back or quarterback down by himself. Other times, Sanders completely whiffs on the tackle and goes flying by the quarterback. That’s a big reason why his sack totals were down this year because he went right by the quarterback and caused the signal-caller to step up. While pressures are nice, Sanders not coming up with the quarterback in his grasps also sometimes caused a long run down the field.
Strength at the LOS (7.5/10)
Sanders is quite lean and has fluctuated between 220 and 245 pounds between the spring and his pro day. He weighed 228 pounds at the combine but gained almost 20 pounds as he weighed 247 at his pro day on March 24. Due to his lean frame, he doesn’t have a ton of power behind his arms, but he can gather some pushback when he uses a bull-rush. Sanders is much more of a speed rusher than a power rusher.
Run Defense (6.75/10)
Sanders is average in run defense. His craftiness will help him here, but due to his lack of play strength, he will struggle against double teams in the run game and struggles to disengage from blockers. If he can locate the ball-carrier, he’s in better shape, but if you’re looking for a player that will be a dominant run defender, Sanders doesn’t fill that description.
Sanders can line up as a 3-4 defensive end or a 4-3 defensive end. He aligned anywhere from a 4i to a wide-nine along Cincinnati’s defensive front. Sanders lined up in multiple stances and could even drop into coverage to cover running backs and tight ends in the flats.
Sanders has a high floor as a rookie. He will likely be the third man in a pass-rush rotation and should play as a 3-4 outside linebacker, allowing him to align in his two-point stance. Sanders relies on his speed, get-off, and explosion to win against offensive tackles. His weight fluctuation is quite concerning, and teams will need to keep an eye on that.
Sanders has fantastic length, so that, paired with his speed, gives him a high floor to succeed at the next level. There are plenty of teams that need a pass-rusher because teams can’t have too many of them. Keeping a viable pass-rush rotation is huge in today’s NFL. Teams in the second round, such as Atlanta, Pittsburgh, or Green Bay, should keep a close eye on Sanders as the second round goes along, as he would immediately be a starter in Atlanta and be the third man in the rotations in both Green Bay and Pittsburgh.
Rookie Projection: Third Man in Pass-Rush Rotation
Third Year Projection: Starting 3-4 Outside Linebacker
Final Grade (82.75/100): Mid Second Round
Player Comp: Yannick Ngakoue