Miles Sanders Is An Underrated Running Back Prospect In The 2019 NFL Draft That Could Fit Very Well With The Detroit Lions In The Middle Rounds Of The Draft.
Miles Sanders’ tape stood out in a day of watching ten different running back prospects in this upcoming NFL Draft, many of them widely considered to be the better backs in the class. He is not getting the respect that he deserves from the draft community, and I would love to see him in a Lions uniform next season.
By all accounts, this is not a very impressive class of running backs. Part of that sentiment is that we are on the heels of two of the most talented running back draft classes of my lifetime. It is tough to not be disappointed when the talent level comes back down to earth.
That said, I really like Miles Sanders. I’m honestly at a loss at the lack of excitement surrounding him as a prospect given how much this class lacks excitement at the running back position.
The biggest knock on Sanders that I had coming into this year was his tendency to try and bounce runs outside too often. This was a similar concern that many had with his teammate Saquon Barkley. Miles Sanders doesn’t have the same freak athleticism that Barkley had, so it was far more concerning to me on Sanders’ tape than it was on Barkley’s.
Miles Sanders put those concerns to rest and was much more deliberate in his running this past season. Sanders is a patient runner who picks his way through the middle of the line well. He navigates traffic and finds creases in the defense to work his way to the second level.
While most of the backs in this class lack the frame or the athleticism to run both between the tackles and threaten the corner, Miles Sanders can do both.
Coming in at 211 pounds, Sanders doesn’t have a big bruising frame, but he has more than enough bulk to handle a consistent workload of carries between the tackles at the NFL level. He isn’t a back that is going to run defenders over on a regular basis, but he has really good balance and good leg drive that help him bounce off tackles and run through arm tackles as well as pushing forward to fall forward.
He has the speed and burst to get the corner and get upfield. He generally is a more deliberate runner, running under a controlled pace to weave his way between blockers and defenders, so his burst and explosiveness aren’t always on full display, but he has shown that he has it on his outside runs and when he finds daylight.
In space, Miles Sanders can win with his speed, his power, or his agility. That is rare in this class of running backs. Most of the backs can’t win in multiple ways in space and have a particular trait that they have to lean on. As is the case with the rest of his profile, Miles Sanders is versatile. He can win in multiple ways in space and has no problem being physical or making defenders miss entirely.
While he doesn’t have the accolades that his former teammate Saquon Barkley had as a receiver out of the backfield, Sanders appears to be good in this area, even if he never got the volume that his predecessor demanded. His lateral agility lends well to his projection as a route runner at the NFL level, and his hands appear to be good.
There are two major concerns with Miles Sanders. First, Sanders has issues with ball security. We saw how frustrating this can be with Ameer Abdullah in recent years and how those issues can derail an entire season. This is an area of his game that Miles Sanders definitely needs to clean up if he wants to handle a consistent workload at the next level.
The second concern is his pass protection. Miles Sanders isn’t a big back, but his frame isn’t so small that he can’t be effective in pass protection. He just doesn’t seem to have the technique figured out and ends up out of place sometimes. Pass protection is something that can be fixed, but it is something that can get you pulled from the field on passing downs. He definitely needs work in this area.
Overall, I think Sanders could be a top three back in this class that is currently projected to go day three. I’d be thrilled to land him in that range and think that he could be a really nice compliment to Kerryon Johnson. I’m definitely higher on Miles Sanders than most, but I think he’s a running back prospect that Detroit fans should be excited about. He’s a back that can excel in multiple roles and doesn’t have to be stuck in the “power-back” or “receiving-back” roles that Lions fans have come to despise over the years.
If the Lions are looking to add a quality back through the draft, I think Sanders is one that won’t cost top draft capital.