2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Jack Sanborn

2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Jack Sanborn

by April 22, 2022 0 comments

The late emergence of Wisconsin’s Leo Chenal has put a ton of eyes on the Badgers’ linebacker group. One player all teams should be taking note of when looking at Chenal is Jack Sanborn. Sanborn has been a three-year producer for the Badgers and was the glue to their defense. He’s a smart, experienced player that takes every snap with a high motor, and teammates rally around Sanborn. While all of these attributes are great, we now need to see if Sanborn has that raw talent to project into a successful NFL player.

Make sure to check out all of our other NFL Draft Scouting Reports.

Player Bio

Name: Jack Sanborn
Jersey: No. 57
Position: Linebacker
School: Wisconsin
Class: Senior
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 235 lbs

Games Watched: Rutgers (2021), Northwestern (2021), Purdue (2021)

Major Injury History: None

Player Breakdown

Instincts (13/15)

Sanborn is one of the smartest processors and most instinctual players in this class. He’s always scanning the line and quarterback in an effort to make a play. After quickly processing what is happening in front of him, Sanborn is quick to break to the ball or the developing situation. A problem for Sanborn can be that he is hindered from processing when a bigger frame attacks him. Here, Sanborn must fight around this player because he can’t read anything due to his own size. Aside from this, there are no real issues with Sanborn’s instincts. 

Tackling (12/15)

Inconsistency is a bit of a problem for Sanborn in the tackling department, but the tools are promising. He wraps up well most of the time and is really fueled by getting into the backfield. That means that when Sanborn breaks through the initial blocks, he is determined to finish the play. At times, he can be a little too short to get in to make a tackle, but he almost always makes it work.

Block Shedding (7.5/10)

Arm length is a problem for Sanborn. However, he tries to make the most of it with his block shedding. Sanborn’s arms are only 31.5 inches. This is a concerning number, one that scouts fear will lead him to get eaten alive in the NFL. On tape, though, Sanborn does well to get the most arm extension possible. Doing so allows him to rip off the lineman and get to the ball carrier. Sanborn is better at doing this in close quarters rather than the second level, but his overall technique is what you look at as opposed to the arm length. 

Run Defense (8.25/10)

Sanborn can dominate the run and has shot several gaps with ease. He has excellent contact balance that allows him to fight through the lineman’s original stun and push right past for the TFL. Sanborn also knows exactly who his assignment is at all times. He’ll hit the lineman to create space for his other linebackers, making the play much easier on any defense. 

Pursuit and Closing Speed (7.5/10)

The closing speed for Sanborn is two-fold. Working sideline-to-sideline, he doesn’t sink the hips as well to get going fast enough and make an effective play. Coming downhill, Sanborn is phenomenal. He does this so well to the point where he’ll hunt down the quarterback and make an impact play against the run on several plays in which he’s assigned to do so. If that sideline-to-sideline improves early, Sanborn will see reps off the bat.

Pass Rush Ability (8/10)

He’s no Micah Parsons, but Sanborn has racked up 11.5 sacks throughout his three-year career and 10.5 between 2019 and 2021 alone. This comes mostly on blitzes from his traditional interior linebacker position. Wisconsin used Sanborn’s downhill speed to get to the pass-rusher with ease. He normally was tasked with going right up the A or B gaps, but Sanborn also came around the line on more complex schemes, all of which saw some success.

Man Coverage (4/10)

Sanborn was almost never tasked with playing man in Madison. On the very few reps he was, there was no real determination to make a play. You can’t fault the former Badger grade-wise because this is something he doesn’t need for the NFL. Sanborn projects to be a blitzing, run-stuffing linebacker who will provide some value in zone, not as a man coverage specialist.

Zone Coverage (6.5/10)

As we hinted at in the man coverage section, Sanborn provides some good value in zone coverage. He mostly stays in hooks over the middle of the field but can come up a little closer to the line or work side to side. What Sanborn could improve is his backpedal, though it’s looked quicker at times. Still, there isn’t a massive sample size for Sanborn in zone coverage. Thus, there is still a determination NFL front offices need to make in where they utilize him.

Ball Skills (3.25/5)

Sanborn’s most successful year in the ball skills category was his sophomore season of 2019. He had three interceptions, three passes defended, and one forced fumble. The next season, he picked up an interception and forced another fumble. In 2021, Sanborn’s production lowered as his role changed to more of a slasher, but he still recovered a fumble. If you think the 2021 numbers are detrimental, they aren’t. Sanborn had 16 tackles for loss last season, clearly indicating a change in his role for the better.

Versatility (3.5/5)

We’ve seen Sanborn’s role change from year-to-year, but he projects to be a classic 4-3 inside linebacker at the next level. If teams want to tinker with that role, they most likely can, as Sanborn could potentially play in a 3-4 scenario. The reason we list 4-3 is that that’s the position he’s played throughout his Wisconsin tenure. Experience is important with a player like Sanborn, so the 4-3 notion is definitely best out the gates. 

Player Summary

Sanborn fits the mold of a classic Wisconsin defensive player. He is smart, experienced, and plays with great functional strength. Teams will select Sanborn because of his explosiveness downhill and processing capabilities. The arm length could be an issue at the next level, though the league is trending towards shorter, quicker linebackers as of late. Sanborn should be a Day 3 selection and a value one at that should he slip into the fifth round. 

Rookie Projection: Backup Inside Linebacker

Third-Year Projection: Potential Starting ILB

Player Grade (73.5/100): Fourth Round

Pro Comparison: Bo Bower

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