by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of Texas Athletics.
The NFL Draft talk never ends, and we are here at Draft 412 in an effort to keep you ready for the next set of gridiron stars. From today until draft night 2024, we will bring you mocks, profiles, team needs, and everything else related to the 2024 NFL Draft.
Today’s Spotlight - Texas, Tight End, Ja’Tavion Sanders
Name- Ja’Tavion Sanders
HT/WT- 6’4” 249 lbs.
Home – Denton, TX
Ja’Tavion Sanders was a 5-star recruit out of Billy Ryan High School in Denton, TX. Sanders played wide receiver and defensive end and also starred on the basketball court. Sanders chose Texas over offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M.
Sanders only saw action on special teams for 12 games as a freshman and never lined up at tight end during the season, but lost his redshirt because he was needed on special teams. As a sophomore, Sanders played and started all 13 games at tight end, finishing the season with 54 receptions for 613 yards and 5 touchdowns. He was named a first-team All-Big 12 selection and a semifinalist for the John Mackey Award (nation’s top tight end).
Sanders runs precise routes and is very hard to cover, getting separation from coverage consistently. He’s a long strider and has the ability to be elusive once the ball is in his hands. For an athlete his size, he’s got sneaky foot speed and excels in the red zone. With his frame and basketball experience he uses his body well to shield defenders when making contested catches. He has soft hands and does a good job of catching the ball away from his body.
On the downside, his foot speed will not overwhelm defenders at the next level and he’s not a force at run blocking. He will need to improve in-line and may be a liability in the run game in the NFL. He will also need to add energy to his performance as he tends to play at a slower, more deliberate pace, which won’t go over as well in the pros.
Sanders will be a nice possession receiver at the tight end spot but should not be counted on for making splash plays like Kelce or Kittle. He lacks the strength to help out with pass blocking and may end up being a passing downs-only option in the NFL.
Greg Dulcich of the Denver Broncos came to mind when Draft 412 watched the film on Sanders. Both are 6’4” and each have great hands. They will not stretch the opponents and the blocking skills for both are questionable.
Red zone specialist
Runs good crisp routes
Needs to add strength
Run and pass blocking
No big play ability
Ja’Tavion Sanders appears to be in the running to be the 2nd tight end off the board after Georgia’s Brock Bowers. He will need to show the NFL that he can run block and not be a “one trick pony”. He has the ability to be a 70 catch, 700 yard receiver, and a red zone force.
Prediction- 2nd Round