Vikings Draft Thermometer: LB Drew Sanders
Welcome to the Vikings Draft Thermometer series, PurplePTSD‘s one-stop shop for all your 2023 NFL Draft needs. Throughout this series, we will be examining a number of prospects ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft, analyzing their strengths, weaknesses, what exactly their role could be at the NFL level, and most importantly, whether or not they could end up playing their first NFL snaps in a Vikings uniform. With that, let’s take a look at today’s prospect: Arkansas LB Drew Sanders.
- Height: 6’5
- Weight: 230 pounds
- School: Alabama, Arkansas
- Games Watched: South Carolina (2022), Alabama (2022), LSU (2022)
- 2020: 9 tackles (8 games)
- 2021: 24 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, 1.0 sack, 2 PDs (7 games)
- 2022: 103 tackles, 13.5 TFLs, 9.5 sacks, 5 PDs, 1 INT, 3 FFs, 1 FR (12 games)
After spending most of his first two seasons as a rotational outside linebacker at Alabama, Drew Sanders transferred to Arkansas and immediately saw his role grow with a move to the MIKE spot.
Sanders possesses a potent combination of strength and speed, and he remains versatile enough to play multiple positions on the defensive side of the ball. He remains at his best when utilized as a pass rusher, but he saw a steady improvement in the other MIKE duties as well.
First and foremost, Sanders remains a very raw prospect. He has only played one season as a starter, and his role changed in that move to the starting defense. In particular, he could bear to improve his run defense. He doesn’t always pick the most efficient route to ballhandlers and can get stuck to blockers.
Finally, his pass coverage showed some flashes during the 2022 season, but it’s largely unknown how well his skills in that area will translate to the NFL. It will be interesting to see what type of role NFL teams see for this raw prospect.
- Draft Round: Second Round
- Immediate Role: MIKE linebacker, but could take some time to become a full-time starter
- Best-Case Scenario: Jamie Collins
- Vikings Draft Temperature: 55
If the Vikings want to utilize their linebackers as blitzers more often in 2022, Drew Sanders is one of the best in that role. It remains to be seen if NFL teams find him worthy of first round considerations, but especially if the Vikings try to get back into the second round, Sanders could very well be an option.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.