The 2019 NFL Draft is less than three weeks away and teams are finalizing their draft boards. Prospects across the nation are meeting with teams, trying to impress NFL teams one more time. Penn State running back Miles Sanders is one of those players as he is trying to improve his draft range.
Experts originally had the Pittsburgh native as a player who be drafted in the middle rounds, but has improved his stock dramatically since January. Sanders’ climb up the boards started at the NFL Combine where he impressed scouts with his 4.49 40-yard dash, 4.19 20-yard shuttle and 36-inch vertical leap. He also showed scouts that he has the ability to catch passes out of the backfield as he looked fluid catching passes in Indianapolis.
Sanders only ran for 1,649 yards in his three years at Penn State, but he was behind 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year Saquon Barkley for his first two seasons. NFL teams do not mind his lack of total carries as he does not have too much wear and tear on his body. Sanders struggled with ball security in his first two years, but he was a steady ball carrier in his final season at Happy Valley.
Alabama’s Josh Jacobs is the top running back prospect in the 2019 draft, but there is no clear running back prospect behind him. Sanders is in that mix as he is the only other running back prospect that is slated to go in the first round on the NFL.com Mock Draft Central. Peter Schrager has Sanders going to the Los Angeles Rams with the 31st pick, but he would most likely be Todd Gurley’s backup.
The Oakland Raiders are also in need of a running back so he could be off the board before the Rams are on the clock. The Pittsburgh Steelers just lost Le’Veon Bell in free agency, so the Pittsburgh native could have a homecoming. It is unlikely that they would take him at pick number 20, because the Steelers have bigger needs to fill than running back in the first round.
Sanders has the ability to help any offense in his rookie year, but many teams are not in desperate need of a running back. The lack of need could push him out of the first round, but he is a lock to within the first two rounds. Sanders is one of the best playmakers in the 2019 draft, which will make him a hot commodity.
Teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Jacksonville Jaguars are in desperate need of a dynamic running back out of the backfield. The latter has Leonard Fournette, but he has struggled with injuries during his first two seasons and is not the same type of receiver as Sanders. The Bucs drafted Ronald Jones in the 2018 NFL Draft, but he has not panned out and the team could try to replace him with Sanders.
Both teams could trade up into the first round to take Sanders as he will be the most valued running back prospect after Jacobs get drafted. The Penn State running back is unlikely to go as high as Barkley did, but Sanders will be off the board within the first 50 picks.