Summary: The night after the running back prospects worked out at the NFL Scouting Combine, WalterFootball.com caught up with two running back coaches, one from an AFC playoff team and one from a NFC playoff team. Independently, they both named the same three running backs as players who impressed them during the field workout. They were Ohio State's Mike Weber, Penn State's Miles Sanders and Michigan State's L.J. Scott.
Sanders had a very fast 40 time of 4.49 seconds at the combine. The coaches also liked how he looked in the field work. Sanders showed athleticism and quick feet with cutting ability beyond his fast 40 time. After serving as the backup to Saquon Barkley early in his career, in his senior year, Sanders averaged 5.8 yards per carry for 1,274 yards with nine touchdowns.
Sanders has three-down starting potential for the NFL. What really stands out about and makes him unique is what an excellent job he does of keeping his legs going after contact. Sanders uses that to break tackles and accelerate downfield when it looks like he is going to be stopped. He is also tough to tackle at the second level as he runs through contact. Sanders' knee bend and leverage allow him to run behind his pads and power through arm tackles. On top of his excellent feet, Sanders has some elusiveness in the open field as he can cut to weave his way around defenders. Sanders has a good jump cut and lateral quickness to dodge would-be tacklers.
Sanders showed at the combine that he has some natural feel as a receiver out of the backfield. He is athletic, quick, and fluid in the open field. His route-running and hands should lead to him being a nice check-down receiver in the NFL.
After his strong combine performance, Sanders could end up being a second-day pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Cadillac Williams. Sanders reminds me of Cadillac Williams when he was running well for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Injuries robbed Williams (5-11, 218) of what the 2005 NFL Rookie of the Year could have been, but Sanders has a similar running style to Williams'. They also are almost identical in size and similar in quickness and ability to keep their legs moving after contact. In the NFL, I think Sanders could be a similar runner to Williams.
NFL Matches: Oakland, Miami, Washington, Carolina, Houston, Kansas City, Philadelphia
There are a few teams that could consider taking Sanders on the second day of the 2019 NFL Draft. Perhaps the highest that Sanders could hope to go would be to Oakland with 34th overall pick. The Raiders need a running back of the future, and Sanders would be a good scheme fit for Jon Gruden.
Miami needs to replace Frank Gore, and Sanders could form an excellent tandem with the brittle Kenyan Drake.
Washington could consider Sanders. The Redskins have Adrian Peterson returning, but with Derrius Guice coming off a serious injury and having character issues, they could consider another back. Sanders could be in play for one of Washington's third-round picks.
Carolina could use some running back depth behind Christian McCaffrey. If Sanders gets to the third round, he could be an option for the Panthers.
Three playoff teams have a pair of second-round picks, and Sanders could be a fit for each organization. The Texans need to upgrade their running back talent, and Sanders would be a really good value for them if he fell to one of their second-round picks. The Eagles need a No. 1 running back, and Sanders would be a good scheme fit for them. He also would provide nice bang for the buck with one of their second-round picks. At the end of the second round, Sanders could be in play for the Chiefs, which need a replacement for Kareem Hunt. Sanders could be in play for either of Kansas City's second-round picks.