After impressing in practice, the Miles Sanders hype train really caught steam in Thursday night’s game vs Jacksonville. He ran the ball effectively, carrying 5 times for 31 yards, but even when he didn’t get big gains, he showed a lethal lateral move and good vision.
However, during the NFL draft, training camp, and preseason, Sanders picked up question marks regarding explosiveness, catching, and blocking from various beat writers and draft analytics.
In this article, I will break down the tape from Sanders’ games from Penn State to evaluate whether there are any truths to these myths.
Myth 1: Isn’t explosive in open field
First one comes from the talented Matt Miller from Bleacher Report:
“(Sanders) isn’t explosive in the open field and will get caught from behind.”
From my breakdown video above of Sanders’ tape i noted the following:
- Displays consistent snap-fast explosive lateral steps and change of direction both in the box and in open field, whether it be making first defender miss on a run, or after catching a pass in the flat.
- Burst and acceleration in-between cuts is really impressive
- Consistently finishes runs by exploding into contact with power.
- Ability to not only do quick, nimble cuts to navigate at the line of scrimmage, but also explode through open holes makes him tricky to bring down.
In conclusion: While Sanders definitely shows more explosiveness between the tackles than in open space, there is enough video by a comfortable margin to conclude this myth is a BUST
Myth 2: Has drop issues in passing game
This is a tricky one. Of course, I could just quote all of the highly skilled analysts on thedraftnetwork.com and NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein saying how he catches well away from his frame and has soft, reliable hands.
However, i would much rather like to show you exactly why this quote should be nominated for most misleading of the Eagles 2019 training camp:
In conclusion: A needless rumor that must be stopped. BUST
Myth 3: Has pass protection issues
The final myth came from Jimmy Kempski from PhillyVoice.com:
“Heading into his rookie season, Sanders has to clean up pass protection”
Now I’m not sure which part of pass blocking Kempski is talking about here, and, unfortunately, he doesn’t specify.
However, I generally see a lot of good from the tape, and unlike most college running backs, Sanders actually has good technique.
He really showed it yesterday 4th down, picking up and stopping a blitz in the A gap from a 240 lbs Joe Giles-Harris coming at full speed. Something we have seen Sanders do before in college as well:
The following are things he showed in college as well:
- Displays solid base, good engage, and feet movement when taking on outside blitzers.
- Violent, powerful engage on inside blitzers much bigger than himself.
- Willing blocker, doesn’t whiff, and doesn’t take backward steps
- Scans the defense for blitzers really well.
- Needs to stay consistent with his technique, can’t give up on plays.
In conclusion: If Kempski suggests Sanders lack pass blocking skills, the myth is a BUST. However, I know Kempski is a big Sanders fan, and if we are just talking about remaining consistent and continuing to develop (which i have no doubt Duce Staley will coach up well), there is some TRUTH to it.
Sanders is doing anything he can to earn as many reps in the regular season as possible. He might even push for the “starting” role, although we know Doug likes to substitute frequently at RB.
Find me on Twitter @Thomasrp93!
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports