Ja’Tavion Sanders’ Draft Profile | Texas, TE Scouting Report

A former all-state defensive end in high school, Texas' Ja'Tavion Sanders now has the 2024 NFL Draft scouting report to be an impact tight end.

Where does Texas tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders rank in the 2024 NFL Draft with his scouting report? There are still areas in which Sanders can improve, but he can potentially be a vital two-phase weapon for an NFL offense.

Ja’Tavion Sanders’ Draft Profile and Measurements

  • Height: 6’3 7/8″
  • Weight: 245
  • Length: 32 7/8″
  • Wingspan: 78 1/4″
  • Hand: 10 1/8″
  • Position: Tight End
  • School: Texas
  • Current Year: Junior

Even before Sanders made the leap from Denton Ryan High School in Denton, Texas, he was destined for the NFL. He was an All-American who played on both sides of the ball, and if he wanted, he could have had a future as a defensive end.

As a high school junior in 2019, Sanders was a first-team All-State performer at defensive end with 11 sacks. But in 2020, he started to play a more significant role on offense, and it became clear that a receiving role was where he’d shine in college.

Once he was able to focus primarily on offense, Sanders dominated, hauling in 63 passes for 1,161 yards and 16 scores as a senior. He was a consensus five-star recruit and a top-five player in the powerhouse state of Texas, and he chose to stay in-state and join the Longhorns.

After a true freshman season spent primarily on the special-teams unit, Sanders exploded as a sophomore. He broke the Texas TE record for receptions in a season with 54, and his 613 receiving yards were the second most by a Longhorns TE in school history.

Even as Xavier Worthy reached career-highs in 2023 and transfer addition Adonai Mitchell emerged, Sanders still remained productive catching passes from future quarterback prospect Quinn Ewers.

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In 2023, Sanders again broke the school’s TE yardage record with 682, while catching 45 passes and two touchdowns. He averaged 15.2 yards per reception and eclipsed 100 yards against Alabama, Baylor, and Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Championship Game.

Sanders’ production in college was indicative of his rare talent, and so too was his testing at the NFL Combine — running an 82nd percentile 4.69 40-yard dash with a 1.6 10-yard split in the 91st percentile. But looking at his full scouting report, how does Sanders project to the NFL?

Ja’Tavion Sanders Scouting Report

Strengths

  • Explosive size-speed athlete with brisk short-area quickness and foot speed.
  • Sports a dense and compact frame and has enough length to play past his frame.
  • Profile yields in-built versatility on motions, in-line, designed touches, and as a big slot.
  • Flashes high-end lateral burst and fluidity on screens and when shifting into the flats.
  • Has the burst and long speed to threaten the seam and stretch the field on RAC plays.
  • Possesses the necessary curvilinear flexibility to bend while accelerating up the seam.
  • Flashes high-end focus, hand-eye coordination, and extension timing on high passes.
  • Can contort and control his body to make high-difficulty catches even against contact.
  • Has vice-grip hands in contested situations and can secure passes away from his frame.
  • Has shown he can chop his feet and quickly plant and drive on digs over the middle.
  • Flashes promise as an independent separator, using stem presses and leverage IQ.
  • Can use targeted extensions to pry past press defenders while exploding up the seam.
  • Has shown he can use his midsection to absorb solo hits and keep his legs churning.
  • Consistently finishes forward with his combination of physicality and contact balance.
  • Incredibly willing run blocker with alignment and usage versatility and great power load.

Weaknesses

  • Burst and long speed, while exceptional, fall just short of the elite mark.
  • Doesn’t quite have the speed necessary to separate on long-tracking crossers.
  • Isn’t an overwhelming size threat and doesn’t have high-end mass or reach.
  • Sub-250-pound frame may limit his utility as an in-line blocker in the NFL.
  • Sometimes exhibits slight hip stiffness when working across-face against DBs.
  • At times, runs too far upright ahead of stems, inhibiting sink and misdirection.
  • Doesn’t have high-end sink at stems and will let DBs get inside his frame with tall style.
  • Can still strive for more efficient plant-and-drive footwork and tempo at stems.
  • Focus and hand-eye coordination can be disrupted by direct contact and physicality.
  • Occasionally overshoots run blocking angles in space and lacks elite recovery flexibility.
  • At times, can be more disciplined with his angles and extension timing.

Current Draft Projection and Summary

Sanders grades out as a top-100 prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft. He’s my TE3 in the class, behind Georgia’s Brock Bowers and Kansas State’s Ben Sinnott. Sanders may have some scheme dependence as a prospect, but as a versatile big-slot weapon with RAC, seam, and red-zone utility, he brings plenty of value.

At around 6’4″, 245 pounds with a 4.69-second 40-yard dash speed, Sanders is a notable size-speed athlete with great burst and agility, and he compounds those traits with good play strength, physicality, and contact balance in multiple phases.

Sanders’ best plays come when he’s able to attack up the seam. He has the necessary zone awareness to bend out of breaks and find space, and when the ball comes his way, he can snare it with sharp focus, smooth body control, and incredibly strong, authoritative hands.

Sanders can use his explosiveness to carve through zone-coverage looks and outmuscle defensive backs once he has leverage advantages, but he’s also a potent RAC threat. His burst and frame density make him a handful with the ball in his hands, and he’s a forward-pressing finisher with some creativity on the lateral plane.

Even after 2023, there’s still room for Sanders to improve as a route runner. His route tree still has room to expand, there are still plant-and-drive deficiencies on tape, and he has a tendency to run too far upright into stems, which can exacerbate issues with transitions.

Sanders may never be an incredibly potent route runner, but with his size-speed profile, bend, and zone awareness, he has a niche he can fit into. And beyond his value as a seam and red-zone threat, he’s a venerable RAC weapon who also brings great willingness as a blocker in space.

READ MORE: Top TEs in the 2024 NFL Draft

Particularly in schemes that value RAC and blocking utility from their TEs, Sanders would be a stellar fit. Right away, he should be a quality situational presence with his RAC and catch-point appeal, and he can grow to become a quality starter year in and year out.

All the 2024 NFL Draft resources you need — the draft order, the top QBs, the Top 100 prospects, and the full 2024 Big Board — right at your fingertips at Pro Football Network!

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