No. 16, Cincinnati OLB Myjai Sanders


The Unpacking Future Packers Countdown is a countdown of 100 prospects who could be selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Rashan Gary and Preston Smith give the Green Bay Packers a dynamic pair of pass rushers. The duo combined for 18.5 sacks last season and could see that number climb this season.

With Gary and Smith in place, the Packers have the best pass-rushing duo in the NFC North. The depth behind these two is sorely lacking and Brian Gutekunst needs to address the position by targeting 2022 NFL Draft strength (edge ​​rushers) early and often.

One player the Green Bay general manager could target on Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft is Myjai Sanders. The Cincinnati edge rusher checks in at No. 16 in the Unpacking Future Packers countdown.

A three-star rookie, Sanders became a full-time sophomore starter for the Bearcats in 2019 and recorded seven tackles for loss and four sacks. Sanders had something of a breakout season in 2020, recording 10.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks.

Last season, Sanders recorded 7.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Although they weren’t exactly stunning numbers, Sanders constantly put pressure on the quarterback. According to Focus on professional footballSanders finished the 2021 season with 54 pressures, including 10 against Alabama in the college football playoffs.

The first thing that stands out about Sanders is his explosiveness. His explosiveness (1.57 split for 10 yards) is one of the main reasons Sanders was put on Bruce Feldman’s annual roster. Monsters listing.

His speed and ability to use his quick hands to quickly turn the offensive lineman’s corner and close while running the hoop is his greatest strength,” said Blue Chip Scouting contributor Devin Jackson. “He doesn’t have the smoothest flexibility, but his athleticism shines on speed for power moves as well as phantom passes.”

Cincinnati’s edge rusher is stirred with good length. The 38-game starter has a lightning-fast first pitch that gets offensive linemen back on their heels. It travels the arc with speed and shows a great closing flurry. At just 247 pounds, Sanders does a good job of converting speed into power. When he’s not coming home, he uses his length well to disrupt passing lanes (12 career pass deflections).

Sanders gives you a nervous advantage who can use his quickness to win inside and turn the corner on tackles,” Jackson said. “His speed puts pressure on tackles and he gives himself a round trip with the way he changes his plan. He certainly projects more as an outside linebacker than a 4-3 running end.

Despite being undersized, Sanders is playing with a dog versus run mentality. It puts a strong advantage. There will be concerns about how well he’ll hold up against NFL offensive linemen, but there’s no questioning his drive and tenacity. He has the speed to chase the ball carriers from the back.

“His natural strength in the trenches is causing some concern, especially on indoor running plays, but he can hold the edge on outside runs,” Jackson said. “He has pops behind his hands to shock and release to tackle and he has excellent chase speed to chase plays from behind.”

There are question marks over the Cincinnati edge rusher’s fluctuating weight. At the Senior Bowl, Sanders weighed in at 242 pounds. He then weighed in at 228 at the NFL Scouting combine, after battling a stomach bug. Then, at Pro Day in Cincinnati, he registered at 247.

“Sanders definitely needs to gain weight, but I think that will come with an NFL weight program,” Jackson said. “Upper body strength can improve, but I don’t think that’s a huge impediment to his style of play and his efficiency.”

Fit with the Packers

The Packers need to improve the depth behind Gary and Smith. Sanders comes with question marks over his weight and functional strength. He answered some of the question marks about his weight by weighing 247 at Pro Day in Cincinnati after weighing 228 at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Question marks aside. Sanders has the type of explosiveness you just can’t train. He could serve as a designated pass thrower as a rookie, with the potential to become Gary’s long-term running mate.

“Sanders gives you a pass thrower who has contractions and first-pitch quickness to pressure tackles at the line of scrimmage,” Jackson said. “He’s underrated in his ability to push pockets and force quarterbacks out of position. Although a bit lighter, it is an effective multi-year starter. While his job as a coverage dropper isn’t extensive, he can be a situational pass thrower on third downs who can continue to develop his pass rush plan and add mass to be a player. more efficient indoors. He is a player worth betting on.

A team can never have enough talented rushers. With his length and edgy athleticism, Sanders would provide quality depth behind Gary and Smith. If the Packers miss the first wave of rushers in the first round, Sanders could be a player targeted by Gutekunst on day two of the draft.


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