With the NFL Combine behind us and the 2022 NFL Draft just a month away, the final stages of the scouting process are starting to take shape. I’ve been hard at work grinding the tape to bring you detailed breakdowns of some of the top prospects available to the Atlanta Falcons throughout the draft, and I’m excited to finally share them with you now that the athletic testing has been finalized.
First, if you’re unfamiliar with my scouting reports from previous years, you can read about my grading system here. Please keep in mind this system is still in development, and may be adjusted as more data points come in.
Next up is one of the more difficult evaluations of the 2022 draft class: Cincinnati EDGE Myjai Sanders. Sanders is a player I wanted to like more after seeing him play so well at the Senior Bowl, but the tape is quite polarizing. Read on for my complete thoughts on Sanders.
EDGE | Myjai Sanders | Cincinnati | #21
RAS: 8.96u (weight corrected to 247 manually)
Games watched: Notre Dame, Houston, UCF, Senior Bowl
Myjai Sanders is a long and lean edge rusher from Cincinnati. His top traits are his burst off the snap and his outstanding competitive toughness–he never gives up and is constantly working to impact the play. However, there are concerns about his weight, as he’s listed in the 250s but looked more like 230 late in the season. That also impacted his ability to defend the run, which was solid at best. This exact concern played out in real time, as Sanders weighed in at 242 at the Senior Bowl, before coming in at just 228 at the Combine, then 247 again at his Pro Day.
Sanders presents a challenging evaluation. He’s routinely late off the snap, which makes his excellent burst tough to rely upon. He’s not particularly flexible or bendy around the edge, and he’s not strong enough to get consistent push as a straight-line bull rusher. As a rookie, his best fit seems to be as a designated pass rusher. But his skillset as a mostly linear athlete requires him to bulk up and add more power to his game.
There are a lot of things to like about Sanders, but also a lot of concerns. Chief among them is the weight and lack of power at the point of attack. If he can maintain a playing weight in the high-240s (or even more), Sanders has starting upside and can be more of a factor against the run. He’s already working hard on his hand technique and pass rushing repertoire, which gives me hope that he can improve his snap-timing as well. Still, there are enough issues here that I’m settling on a third-round grade for Sanders based on his tape. I hope the flashes he showed at the Senior Bowl can be replicated, in which case he could be a good value later on Day 2.
Quick off the snap, excellent explosiveness. Sometimes it’s difficult to determine just how explosive he is because of his tardiness off the snap, but he proves it in other ways.
Flexibility/Lateral Mobility: 4
Doesn’t bend particularly well. More of a straight-line speed rusher. Linear athlete who is somewhat stiff in space. Vulnerable to being juked by quick-footed ballcarriers.
Hand Technique: 6
Feisty hand fighter. Always working his hands. Appears to have a variety of moves. Good at shedding and breaking free of the opposing OL. Not much pop in the hands, however.
Despite below-average arm length, uses the length he has very well. Good at keeping himself clean with his outside rush.
Solid at best. Loves to bull rush but struggles to get consistent push on opponents. Too easily washed out of run plays on tape. Looked much better in this area at Senior Bowl playing in the 240s. Weight fluctuations are a concern.
Competitive Toughness: 8
His best trait. Never quits on plays. Gets his hands up to bat down balls when his rush is stalled. 5 PDs in 2021. Works off blocks looking for opportunities to get to the QB. Will chase down plays from the back side relentlessly.
Football IQ: 5
Plays gap sound and maintains contain on the outside. Doesn’t bite on eye candy. Reliable. However, poor snap timing and routinely late off the snap. Needs to improve here to get better at creating pressure with consistency.
Production took a step back in 2021, though he had a much better season in 2020 in 4 less games. Just 7.5 TFL and 2.5 sacks to go along with 41 total tackles. Did have 5 PD, showcasing his ability to impact throwing lanes with his length.
Run Defense: 4
Mixed bag. Hand technique helps him keep off blocks and he has a big tackle radius. However, he lacks power and doesn’t hold POA well. Thin lower half on tape. Needs to add and maintain mass there.
Played 5T, 7T, 4i, and 9T. Rushes from both sides. Executes stunts and twists very well. Best when asked to take a straight line to his target. Lack of power at POA makes him a designated pass rusher early. Limited ability to drop into short zone coverage.
Athleticism: 8.96u, 18/20
Excellent athlete, particularly with his weight corrected to the Pro Day weigh-in. High-end long speed and explosiveness, along with a good frame. Weight and slightly below-average arm length are concerns–though he uses the length he has very well.