Our NFL rookie profile series continues with this analysis of 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Miles Sanders, RB from Penn State. You can also check out all of our NFL Draft Prospect articles here. We will continue to provide you with these in-depth rookie profiles and a ton of other fantasy football rookie analysis right up through the NFL Draft. Stay tuned, and stay ahead of your league!
Josh Jacobs not performing as well at the Scouting Combine as some expected made me wonder why many are so sure he will be the first running back selected in the 2019 NFL Draft. I admit it is still likely and I still expect him to be, but I am open to the fact it could very well be someone else. Besides Jacobs, Miles Sanders is one of the players who has a chance at being the first running back off the board, or at least in the top three or four. While I do not think there is an elite prospect in this year’s running back class, I still believe there are a few who can be very productive NFL players.
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Statistics from sports-reference.com.
Sanders did not receive many carries until this past year because there was a pretty good running back hogging all the carries before. Some of you might have heard of him. (His name is Saquon Barkley.) Barkley deserved every carry he received during Sanders’s first two seasons at Penn State so it was understandable when Sanders did not receive many himself. As a result, many were not familiar with his game until the end of last season. While he did not put up Saquon-level statistics, he had a very respectable season both rushing and receiving.
The skill set which stuck out to me to the most was Sanders’s agility. His jump cuts are very effective at getting defenders off-balanced. His contact balance, especially in the second level of the defense, is another positive trait.
Although the running backs disappointed as a whole at this year’s combine, Sanders was one of the few bright spots. His athleticism shows up in games although not as often as I expected. He still has plenty of speed to generate big plays though.
Penn State ran him out of shotgun a lot. He excels at it, perhaps because it allows him to see the field a little better. This is in no way a slight to Sanders’s vision, as he demonstrates great vision between the tackles and in the open field. He also showcases good hands in the receiving game, a very important skill in today’s game.
If you are interested in watching some additional videos of Miles Sanders, check out his NFL Draft Prospect Video page here.
In a running back class filled with underwhelming athleticism scores, Sanders is one of the best athletes at the position this year. His broad jump, three-cone, 40-yard dash, and vertical jump are all in at least the 70th percentile. His height, weight, hand, and arm measurements were not as high but they are all still respectable. While his athletic profile does not jump off the page like former teammate Barkley, it does suggest he can find success at the next level. It should by no means hold him back in the NFL.
I was actually surprised he did not have better comparisons. Some names who stick out include Julius Jones, Felix Jones, and Cadillac Williams. While not elite players, they each had productive stretches in their careers.
According to March ADP, Miles Sanders sits as the 11th rookie, with an ADP of 12.00. He was selected third and sixth in two of the ten rookie mock drafts so he definitely has his fair share of believers out there. He sits right behind Damien Harris, another running back I like and view in a similar tier as Sanders. My preference between the two could very likely depend on how early or late they are selected in the NFL draft. As it stands now, I would be comfortable selecting Sanders at the end of the first round of rookie drafts and he would likely become an auto-pick if he fell to the second round anywhere.
As far as startups, he is the 87th player off the board with a March ADP of 88.50. Other running backs going in this range include Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, James White, and Mark Ingram. This is actually a solid group of players. I prefer some over Sanders but Sanders over others. It is much more in line with how I value him compared to his February ADP of 135. Back then he was being selected around Dion Lewis, Duke Johnson, Elijah McGuire, and Gus Edwards. Give me Sanders very easily over those four. It seems Sanders’s combine helped his dynasty stock and his hype train has begun to take off.
I am all about finding values in rookie drafts. Sure, there are players I prefer over others but each selection needs to take cost into account. For instance, while I like Sanders’s game, I am not planning to select him at pick five of a rookie draft unless he ends up being selected in the first round of the NFL draft. If that happens he will be a significant riser up my board and many others’ as well.
However, if Sanders is selected on day two of the NFL draft and his rookie ADP sits near where it is right now, he could very well be a target player of mine. Gone are the days when you could steal him in the second round, but he could still be a solid selection near the end of the first round if others in your league are too focused on wide receivers in that range.