The highly-regarded high school All-American started at left tackle in his first game with the Seminoles, then moved to the right side for the final 10 games of the year. Sanders played in all 27 games of his sophomore and junior seasons, starting all but one (benched for inconsistent play vs. South Florida in 2009). He lined up on the right side for every game except the 2010 Virginia contest, where he stepped in for the injured Datko.
Sanders possesses the height and build of a left tackle, and rarely gets beat by opposing ends in pass protection or the run game, so teams will consider selecting him in the top half of the draft. He will not be an elite prospect, however, unless he improves his foot quickness and knee bend, as NFL veterans will take advantage of such flaws.
Pass Blocking: Has size and agility to handle NFL pass pro responsibilities. Stands tall and tends to bend at waist while moving laterally. If posture is good, stands tall and can be knocked back with a strong punch. Brings his hands up strong to punch his man on initial contact but tends to do so slowly. Most college ends can't bull rush him because anchors after contact, but NFL ends will unless he improves his hand quickness and knee bend. Multiple blitzers to his side confuse him. Cuts off the inside lane with length and footwork, though he gives up ground in the process.
Run Blocking: Not a dominant run blocker on the right side, but locks onto his man immediately on most heads-up plays, stays with him until the back is away. Feet are quick enough to get inside or outside position on nine-technique ends. Crashes down on tackles on zone plays, gets adequate push. Walls off 'backers near the line effectively with length and strong hands. Inconsistent on reach-blocks against quicker tackles, gives ground as the play goes down the line; may struggle there in the NFL. Comes out of stance high on short-yardage plays but keeps legs churning to get movement. Recovery speed is lacking once shed in pass pro or the run game.
Pulling/Trapping: Occasionally moved outside to lead runs towards the sideline, can wall off or push away smaller defenders in space. Lacks foot speed and flexibility to be elite on the move, however.
Initial Quickness: Inconsistent off the snap, best in two-point pass pro. Displays attitude to attack ends right away in the run game, but height and average flexibility make him a tick late getting out of his stance occasionally.
DownField: Regularly makes run blocks on the second level or beyond using his length and effort, but heavy feet and average change of direction skills to negate quicker NFL defenders head-up. Indecisive hitting targets when there is no one obvious man in front of him.
Intangibles: Durable player scheduled to be a four-year starter. Received 2010 All-ACC Academic notice. Earned Eagle Scout status in the Boy Scouts of America."
Coils up into his stance well, and is a natural bender who is quick off the ball in pass protection. Possesses good range off the edge, he doesn't have elite edge range, but stays compact on his kick slide, can say with speed rushers and extends his arms well into contact. IS very balanced and coordinated extending his arms.
He keeps his base down through contact, gets inside the chest plate of the defender and exhibits the shuffle and slide ability to mirror through the play.
Is very fluid/coordinated laterally, especially when he gets his hands on a target. At times can be overwhelmed on contact initially, but settles his feet quickly, drops pad level and can re-anchor. Doesn't get overextended often and was very impressive vs. top tier ACC pass rushers.
Showcases natural range out of his stance in the run game. He fires off the ball low, but does waste some motion into contact winding his arms, and can be slow to gain leverage. However, he does a nice job breaking down on contact at the second level, can pull from the backside and exhibits good range in the open field.
He does fall off blocks at times through contact when trying to create a push. Is a heavy-handed guy who is a good slide down blocker, but at times gets a bit confused on who to block and only displays average awareness.
Nevertheless, he exhibits the ability to reach off his frame, chip and then hit another target at the second level and has the skill set to excel as a run blocker, as he possesses the lower half make-up to add even more strength and become a very solid power player.
Awareness gets him in trouble at times off the snap, and has had a number of false starts/holding calls made on him. Should improve as a senior.
Impression: A natural athlete who can bend, is coordinated and patient into contact. Possesses a good amount of upside as well and looks like a starter on either side of the O-line."
Run Blocking: I was more impressed with him as a run blocker than in pass protection. He’s explosive off the snap and plays with good leverage. He’s an excellent move blocker that does his best work downfield at the second level. He’s got heavy hands and excellent range from the backside. His awareness in the run game needs improved upon. At times he looked lost on who to block (Oklahoma).
Technique: Overall his technique is solid but needs to work on a more consistent base in pass protection. He struggles to re-anchor after initial contact. His hands are heavy and he has good hand placement.
Athleticism/Strength: Sanders is a good athlete for the position. His lateral agility is very good and he can mirror defenders all day long. He is susceptible to power but has a strong lower body. He has the frame to add weight without losing any athleticism and really should. He gets blown back on initial contact too often.
Bottom Line: Zebrie Sanders is a plus athlete that has room to grow from both the physical and mental standpoint. He’s an experienced starter in the ACC but lacks the awareness to always know what he’s supposed to be doing. I don’t think he’s ready to come in and start in the NFL and he will take some time to teach an NFL blocking scheme.
Draft Projection: 2-3."
Sets quickly, can cut off the wide rush and stymie edge speed.
Does not play strong-handed and can do a better job replacing his hands and leveraging defenders in the run game.
Has been very efficient in Rick Trickett’s zone-slide protection scheme and has been asked to play at a light weight.
However, he has the frame and bone structure to easily stack on 15-20 pounds and become a solid NFL starter."
Zebrie Sanders is the type of prospect that will gain a lot of attention as the season progresses. He is a decent athlete with quick feet and good balance. His ability to protect the edge and anchor after initial contact makes him a very good pass protector.
While he plays right tackle at FSU, Sanders possesses the potential to shift to left tackle and hold the edge. His best attribute is his ability to velcro to a defender and lock him out away from his body. This will make him attractive to zone blocking teams.
The biggest concern with Sanders is his lower body strength and ability to move defenders off the ball. This is more noticeable because of his inconsistent play. When he fires off the ball he is able to gain leverage and create a push. However, he doesn't always explode out of his stance forcing him to rely on his strength.
Overall, Sanders has enough ability to gain 2nd or 3rd round attention but that depends on his consistency. A good solid season could have Sanders in the discussion as a legitimate NFL prospect.
Bold Statement: Sanders will be drafted ahead of fellow FSU tackle Andrew Datko
Games Viewed: Miami ('10), Clemson ('10), North Carolina ('10)
- Sanders has a nice good size but needs to add more bulk
- His 6-6 frame will allow him to add bulk and not loose much athleticism
- He does a good job getting his hands out in front and locking out the defender
- His heavy hands allow him to velcro and control
- Sanders has a good natural bend allowing him to anchor after contact
- He has the ability to fire off the football and explode into the defender
- Possessing quick feet and balance are the keys to his ability to mirror
- Sanders is thin through the hips and has questionable lower body strength
- He is an inconsistent player as far as technique and hustle are concerned"
Has decent size and long arms; also has good strength and is an effective drive blocker who keeps his pads low and can get to the second level; also has some short-area quickness, but has limited foot speed, doesn’t change direction all that well and struggles to cut off the edge;
Former Eagle Scout is a character player who is an outstanding student and a one-time violist in a chamber orchestra."
He generally runs in the 5.20 range in the 40-yard dash and has been clocked as fast as 5.12 from that distance.
He has a quick feet for a man of his size and that suits him for the left tackle position because he can deal with fast defensive ends.
There is room for Sanders to add some bulk to his tall frame and he will have to do that as he heads to the next level.
That will help him improve his explosion off the ball and win the battle at the line of scrimmage on running plays."