Is Shedeur Sanders a Top 2024 NFL Draft Prospect?

As he enters his first year of eligibility, could Colorado QB Shedeur Sanders become a top 2024 NFL Draft prospect?

Deion Sanders and Shedeur Sanders already set a gripping college football storyline in 2023 after moving from Jackson State to Colorado.

However, a later chapter has been set aside for the younger Sanders, who may soon follow his father’s footsteps to the NFL. Is he an NFL Draft prospect worth watching in the years to come?

Who Is Shedeur Sanders?

Many people are curious about Sanders’ aspirations for the NFL Draft. As the son of a Hall of Famer, Sanders has gained significant attention for being a four-star QB recruit in the 2021 class.

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However, it’s important to note that Sanders has also succeeded on his merit. He played a key role in securing multiple state championships in high school. More recently, he led Jackson State to its first Celebration Bowl victory in 2021, earning the SWAC East title.

Sanders’s performance was also recognized, as he won the Jerry Rice FCS National Freshman of the Year award.

In the previous season, he earned the title of SWAC Offensive Player of the Year due to his exceptional performance. He completed 341 of 483 passes (70.6%), throwing for 3,732 yards, scoring 40 touchdowns, and committing only six interceptions.

Now a junior, Sanders will become eligible for the NFL Draft as a true junior in the 2023 season.

Given his impressive track record at JSU and his first five games in 2023, there is speculation about his possibility of declaring for the 2024 NFL Draft.

Sanders’ 2024 NFL Draft Stock Depends Heavily on 2023

Sanders boasts an impressive recruiting pedigree, supported by his NFL heritage, nation-leading stats, and several individual accolades. However, evaluating his draft status will require a more in-depth analysis beyond these surface-level factors.

Talent-wise, there’s a lot to like about Sanders, which was reflected during the high school recruiting process. He is a solid runner with a sturdy, athletic frame at 6’2″, 215 pounds.

He’s more of a linear runner in space than someone shifty like Lamar Jackson or Bryce Young, but he has enough athleticism to work the pocket and extend when needed. He wisely plays to his limitations and does not simply scramble just to do so, instead working to create a passing lane.

After assessing his skills, we have moved Sanders up in our quarterback rankings due to his impressive arm talent. He has shown that he can throw passes with great velocity and accuracy, even in tight windows down the field and outside the numbers.

This is especially the case on short attempts.

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His deep ball has gotten significantly better throughout 2023 thus far, with him showing better judgment as to where his receiver will be compared to his previous tendency of leaving passes short.

Sanders’ potential draft position in the 2024 NFL Draft will mostly rely on his performance at Colorado in 2023. While at Jackson State, he demonstrated his ability to distribute the ball effectively.

The big question about Sanders entering 2023 was whether he could turn the moments of impressive pocket presence and anticipation into a more consistent product. Entering the season, Sanders’ mechanics required extensive improvement.

After seven games, Sanders has demonstrated significant improvement in his mechanics, with a more efficient passing motion that starts higher and releases above his ear. While there have been some challenging moments for Sanders, every quarterback makes mistakes, has bad games, and must be given the opportunity to improve over time.

This delivery used to be an eyesore, and although it worked more often than not, it needed to be addressed. His latest release is faster and more reliable due to fewer movements, enabling Sanders to deliver passes with precision.

Sanders’ arm talent is even more impressive with enhanced mechanics. He excels under pressure and outside the pocket, showcasing great arm flexibility and game sense.

His fourth-quarter and late-game play has been that of a cold-blooded NFL assassin. But just as impressive has been his comfort in a new scheme.

Sean Lewis, Colorado’s offensive coordinator, has given Sanders the opportunity to showcase his ability to read defenses at a higher level. Sanders has readily accepted the challenge, outmaneuvering defenders to find clear passing lanes and deliver accurate throws.

Sanders recently hit a buzzsaw as defenses brought better talent and adjusted their scheme to combat Colorado’s attack. Oregon and Arizona State, in particular, found success rushing a few linemen and dropping seven or eight players into coverage. Lewis hasn’t adjusted well, continuing to call long-developing plays that have rendered Sanders susceptible to sacks.

Oct 7, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Colorado Buffaloes head coach Deion Sanders with son and quarterback Shedeur Sanders (2) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Mountain America Stadium.

But the increase in challenge isn’t a bad thing. Sanders has still shown high-level traits and resiliency and is a heady player. Critics are waiting to see Sanders fall because he’ll celebrate by showing his wrist and saying it’s his time.

However, he’s largely carried this team’s offense against more talented foes and is doing it while leading the country in passing yards and limiting his turnovers. There’s a real chance Sanders lands as a top-five pick by the end of the season. He’s clearly a hard worker, physically capable, and has the X factor needed to be a franchise passer.

Why Did Sanders Commit to JSU?

Choosing Jackson State over a Power Five program that usually attracts four and five-star recruits has led many to question Sanders’ decision. However, it was a simple one: family.

Shedeur chose to play for Jackson State because his father was appointed as the head coach of the team in 2020.

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After a successful shortened season, he was named as the starting quarterback in 2021. His immediate success helped Jackson State achieve an impressive 11-2 record, including an undefeated 8-0 record in the SWAC East.

Sanders chose to play for Jackson State due to family ties and familiarity with the program. However, his exceptional performance has proven that the decision was a risk worth taking for the highly rated recruit.

Where Is Sanders Now?

After two successful years at Jackson State, Sanders moved to the FBS Power Five level. He and his father are still a package deal, as they joined the Colorado Buffaloes.

Sanders had built up the Jackson State program before accepting his new position as head coach at Colorado. Several Jackson State players, including Sanders, entered the transfer portal soon after.

Last December, Sanders announced that he would be transferring to Colorado. He decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the Pac-12. Together, the father-son duo aims to improve the program and take advantage of the expanding College Football Playoff field. This, of course, assumes that Sanders will return to play for his senior year next season.

Sanders’ move has had a significant impact on his 2024 NFL Draft prospects. However, it remains unclear whether he will be able to declare his eligibility by the end of this season, as he still has a number of tasks to complete and skills to demonstrate. Fortunately, his father, who is also his head coach, will provide him with plenty of support throughout this process.

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