by Ryan Myers
Photo courtesy of 247Sports.
At Draft 412, the NFL draft talk never ends. We will keep you ready for the next set of gridiron stars—from today and all the way until draft night 2024. We will bring you mock drafts, player profiles, individual team needs, and everything else you may need related to the 2024 NFL Draft.
Today’s Spotlight - South Carolina, Defensive Tackle, T.J. Sanders
Name - TJ Sanders
Pos - DT
Team - South Carolina
HT/WT - 6’5” 298 lbs.
Born - 06/30/2003
Home - Marion, SC
TJ Sanders played his high school football at Marion High School. In his junior season, he tallied 26 tackles with 5 TFL and 2 sacks. He helped Marion HS to a Class 2A state championship game as a senior in 2020 and was named the HSSR-SCHSL AA Defensive Player of the Year with his performance. He earned 3-star recruit ratings from ESPN, Rivals.com and 247Sports and chose to play his college football close to home at South Carolina, choosing the Gamecocks over several other power 5 offers.
In his first season at South Carolina in 2021, Sanders played in just two games and had no stats to show. He redshirted that season and earned more snaps in his second season, appearing in 12 of South Carolina’s 13 games and recorded 16 tackles, 1 TFL and 1 sack. He showed enough in his limited snaps to earn a much larger role in the Gamecocks' defense coming into this season.
So far in his redshirt sophomore season, Sanders has played in each of the Gamecocks’ 8 games, starting in 3 of them. He has registered 31 tackles, 8.5 TFL, and 4.5 sacks. He has been one of the best weapons on the defensive line for South Carolina and has gained attention of scouts with his possibly already NFL-ready skill set.
Sanders possesses near-elite strength, shedding blocks well and is a reliable tackler. He plays with heavy hands which he uses well when fighting off blocks. He has good instincts to “read and react” and may not have remarkable speed, but his chase down ability and athleticism is above average for the DT position.
Sanders shows decent burst off the line, but lacks suddenness and explosiveness as plays develop. He is not an extremely quick mover, but possesses quality lateral movement and length to make up for this. He also lacks a deep repertoire of line moves as he tends to just use his strength to push through or bounce off blocks. His spin and other moves are a bit slow and lack the surprising element which is valued in the NFL.
TJ Sanders is a beast when he can push a blocker backwards with his initial burst, or if he is bounced around the line to rush the backfield. His run-stopping prowess and use of leverage will draw the attention of the decision makers in the NFL, but he will need to work on his moves and quickness to succeed at the next level.
Draft 412 Draft Prediction - 6th round or 7th round