Ja'Tavion Sanders - TE - Texas

Welcome to the rookie profile for Ja’Tavion Sanders, a standout NFL draft prospect from Texas. With a journey starting as a 5-star recruit from Ryan High School, Sanders has rapidly evolved into a dynamic tight end, showcasing exceptional receiving abilities and open-field blocking skills. His unique blend of athleticism, reliable hands, and versatility on the field makes him a critical asset, redefining the role of a modern tight end. Sanders’ potential to transform any offense is undeniable, setting the stage for an exciting transition to the professional ranks.

Measurables

Height: 6′ 3″

Weight: 245 lbs

Age: 21

40-yard dash: 4.69s

3-cone drill: DNP

20-yard shuttle: 4.32s

Vertical Jump: DNP

Broad Jump: DNP

Bench Press: DNP

*age is at the start of player’s rookie year

College Stats

Receiving & Rushing Table
ReceivingRushingScrimmage
YearSchoolConfClassPosGRecYdsAvgTDAttYdsAvgTDPlaysYdsAvgTD
2021TexasBig 12FRTE12000000000
*2022TexasBig 12SO135461311.450005461311.45
*2023TexasBig 12SRTE144568215.2211212.004669415.12
CareerTexas99129513.1711212.00100130713.17
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 3/15/2024.

Notable Headlines

Ja’Tavion Sanders, throughout his impressive tenure at Texas, emerged as a pivotal force for the Longhorns, earning a coveted spot as a First Team All-Big-12 selection in 2022. His collegiate career was further adorned by a semi-finalist nomination for the prestigious John Mackey Award in the same year, positioning him among the elite tight ends in the nation. Sanders’ on-field prowess and contributions were instrumental in showcasing his dynamic receiving abilities and versatility, solidifying his reputation as a major offensive weapon. These accolades, combined with his notable performance statistics, highlight Sanders as a standout talent, ready to make his mark at the professional level. 

Scouting Report

Positives

Ja’Tavion Sanders stands out as a formidable talent in the tight end position, marked by his exceptional athleticism and diverse skill set. His ability to excel as an open-field blocker and a super reliable receiver places him in a league of his own, offering a dual-threat capability that defies traditional tight end expectations. Sanders demonstrates a remarkable knack for making contested catches and exhibits great deep speed and agility as a route runner, making him an indispensable asset in the passing game. His versatility is further highlighted by his effectiveness after the catch, showcasing a potential as a screen receiver that can take it to the distance with ease. 

With an innate ability to evade linebackers and demand coverage by cornerbacks, Sanders’ presence on the field introduces a strategic advantage for his team, challenging defensive alignments with his speed and route precision. His resilience against press coverage, coupled with super soft hands, ensures that Sanders rarely drops a pass, providing quarterbacks with a dependable target under any circumstance. His alignment versatility, being utilized in multiple formations, underlines his adaptability and football intelligence, making him a critical piece in offensive schematics. 

In essence, Ja’Tavion Sanders embodies the ideal modern tight end, blending traditional blocking roles with an explosive receiving threat. His athletic prowess, combined with a high football IQ and exceptional receiving skills, positions him as a dynamic force poised for an impactful professional career.

Negatives

Ja’Tavion Sanders, while showcasing an impressive array of talents, encounters certain challenges that could affect his transition to the highest level of professional play. His experience and effectiveness as a blocker, particularly in pass protection and traditional tight-end roles, highlight areas ripe for development. Despite his prowess in the receiving game, Sanders has shown to be less adept in consistent in-line blocking, where his performance has sometimes fallen short of expectations. This aspect of his game requires significant enhancement to ensure he can fulfill the multifaceted demands of a pro-level tight end, especially in schemes that value versatility in blocking. 

Furthermore, Sanders’ confrontation with collegiate edge defenders has occasionally exposed difficulties in handling intense physical matchups at the line, suggesting that a focus on strength and technique improvement will be pivotal. His limited action in pass protection, although showing potential, underscores the need for a comprehensive skill set expansion to mitigate pressures and sacks effectively. Transitioning to the NFL, where the complexity and physicality of defenses intensify, Sanders must elevate his blocking acumen to complement his outstanding receiving abilities fully.

Pre Draft Analysis

Expected Draft Capital- Late Round 1

Landing Spots

The Miami Dolphins, with their glaring need at the tight end position, could find a perfect match in Ja’Tavion Sanders towards the end of the first round of the draft. Given their robust roster except for a significant void in tight end talent, Sanders’ dynamic receiving capabilities and potential for rapid development in blocking could provide the Dolphins with the multifaceted weapon they’re missing. However, their recent signing of Jonnu Smith may lower their desire to spend a first round pick on a TE. If this is the case, do not be surprised if Kansas City drafts him to be the eventual Kelce replacement. Giving Mahomes another weapon can never hurt and sliding into a role that does not require him to be an elite in-line blocker could be exactly what Sanders needs to make the most of his career.

Post Draft Analysis

Carolina Panthers - Round 4, Pick 1

Landing Spot

Drafted early in the fourth round by the Carolina Panthers, Ja’Tavion Sanders finds himself in an offense that’s gearing up to maximize the potential of young quarterback Bryce Young. With his impressive stature and adeptness at securing catches in tight spots, Sanders adds a new layer to the Panthers’ tight end group, which already includes the likes of Tommy Tremble and Ian Thomas. Under the guidance of Coach Dave Canales, known for his offensive creativity, Sanders is poised to bring his knack for making big plays from Texas right into the heart of the Panthers’ game plan. His integration into the team seems timely, as Carolina has been looking to bolster its passing attack, making Sanders a potentially key figure in this evolving offense.

Fantasy Outlook

Ja’Tavion Sanders steps into the fantasy realm as a bit of a wild card. His collegiate prowess as a receiver suggests he could emerge as a secret weapon for those in deeper fantasy leagues or those looking for a potential breakout tight end. While his initial role might be limited by the presence of established tight ends like Tremble and Thomas, Sanders’ unique skill set could see him carving out a niche in red-zone packages or third-down plays. Fantasy managers in dynasty leagues might find him particularly appealing, given his upside and potential growth in an expanding offense. As preseason unfolds, keeping an eye on how the Panthers utilize Sanders could be key for those looking to snag a late-round steal with significant upside.

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