New York Giants 2012 NFL Draft Profile: Florida St. OT Zebrie Sanders

By Christopher Gamble

The look at potential prospects for the New York Giants in the 2012 NFL Draft continues with Florida State offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders.

The Giants need help on the offensive line and Sanders has the potential to become a very good left tackle in the NFL.  He has long limbs, with 35 inch arms and hands that are almost 11 inches long, to go with a big frame, 6-5 and 315 pounds.  He put on a little extra weight before the combine and it showed in his performance.  I believe he will need to play a little lighter because his versatility at the combine suffered.  He posted the worst time among offensive linemen in the 3-cone drill with a time of 8.15 seconds.  He also was awful in the 20-yard shuttle, posting a time of 4.99.

Sanders is a project.  He will need to find his ideal playing weight for the next level and maintain that.  He was never an overly athletic guy to begin with and the added weight lowered his draft prospects from a potential second rounder to possibly the fourth round.

Sanders has a lot of upside.  He is a fast learner and there is some athleticism in his body if he can keep the weight down.  He possesses an very nice kick-slide which will allow him to compete against the speed rushers in the NFL.  He needs to learn better hand placement in pass protection.  He often would get lazy and reach at times which led to holding penalties.  He will need some coaching in this department as this won’t fly on a team coached by Tom Coughlin. He will need to improve his strength, perhaps adding muscle to the 320 pounds he showed up to the combine with.

Sanders’ footwork will need a little work.  On tape he would sometimes show happy feet leading to him being thrown off balance at times by interior linemen or stronger defensive ends.  If he can learn to anchor himself once engaged he would be hard to move.  His long arms and massive hands would then become an asset.

He is a smart football player.  He can recognize blitzes but sometimes struggled with more complex blitz schemes.  He should be a quick learner if given the proper coaching at the next level which he will receive.  Having experience at both left and right tackle adds to his versatility but I think also disrupted his technique in college.

Sanders’ motor is excellent and he will continue his block until the whistle is blown. Has a mean streak at times but needs to be more violent with his hands, throwing blitzing linebackers off their track with a hand punch will be essential to his success.  He can disengage very well when he needs to and has shown an ability to adjust to blitzers.  He is a project but one with a lot of experience.

He won’t start right away in the NFL but over time I think he could develop into a starting right tackle with the potential to swing to the left side.  He won’t be an all-pro but he will be a solid lineman in the NFL in time.  The Giants don’t need a starter right now, they need offensive line depth.  Sanders could step into a rotation and perform reasonably well.  With David Diehl expected to be the right tackle and Will Beatty expected back to full health following eye surgery to repair a detached retina the tackle spots are solid.  The Giants also have James Brewer whom they drafted last season and is a bit of a project but one they think will pay dividends in the future.  Sean Locklear was signed away from the Washington Redskins as well to provide depth so Sanders won’t have to be rushed in unless injuries decimate the offensive line.

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