2015 NFL DRAFT
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Emmanuel Sanders

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 186 | College: Southern Methodist
 
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Overview

Sanders is a slashing receiver who could become a playmaker at the next level despite his lack of size because of his explosiveness with the ball in his hands. SMU's all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns, he was under the radar until recently because of the program's lack of success.

After he redshirted in 2005, Sanders earned two straight honorable mention All-Conference USA selections as a receiver. He led the team with 46 catches for 605 yards and six touchdowns as a freshman in 2006, also averaging 24.0 yards on 12 kick returns. He topped those numbers as a sophomore, again leading the Mustangs with 74-889-9 and averaging 9.1 yards per punt return. Coaches named him to the all-conference second team in 2008, as he caught 67 balls for 958 yards and nine scores in 10 games under new head coach June Jones.

Sanders exploded in 2009, when he racked up 98 receptions for 1,339 yards and seven touchdowns. He also resumed his return duties by averaging 13.8 yards per punt return (with one touchdown), helping SMU reach a bowl game for the first time since 1984. His play during the East-West Shrine Game week and excellent Combine (4.4 40, very quick in agility tests and drills) cemented his status as a mid-to-late round pick.

Analysis

Release: Good, not great, quickness off the line. Has the deep speed to accelerate past the average NFL cornerback on vertical routes. Plants to get inside for slants or seam routes after taking corner upfield one or two steps.

Hands: Solid receiver who adjusts to low, wide and short throws downfield as well as leap to bring in overthrown passes. Loses concentration on catchable passes at times when trying to make something happen before the catch. Adequate vertical on jump balls, may not win the strength battles at the next level. Tracks balls over either shoulder, but lacks great flexibility to continue running at full speed. Ball security can be an issue, though, as he will hold the ball loosely as a receiver and returner (three fumbles in 2009).

Route running: Takes advantage of spread offense, using his speed to press corners and a quick shift to get the seam or corner route. Adequate body control, gets a bit loose on the run but manages to get feet down before going out of bounds. Effective on jerk routes because of his knack for crossing the field in front of linebackers.

After the catch: A bit of a long strider but flashes the ability to sink his hips, cut inside or outside, and accelerate after the catch. Best when sidestepping oncoming defensive backs and using quick cuts when running downfield. Should get a chance as a punt returner, though he must be consistent in his willingness to run straight upfield instead of running backwards or getting the corner against quicker NFL special teamers.

Blocking: Usually tries to fake defender into thinking he's going into a route to keep him out of the play instead of blocking on the line. He will get in the way or even lower a shoulder downfield against defenders focused on the ball, but his slight build and marginal effort makes it tough to him to sustain.

Intangibles: Earned his place as a team leader in 2009, getting his teammates to work harder so they could go bowling this season. Suspended for the last two games of 2008 for three minor academic and football violations. That's not a major character issue; in fact, it probably pushed him to be better.

2009 Season

Sanders finished his career as SMU's career leader in receptions, touchdown catches and yards. In his final game, Sanders had seven catches for 124 yards and a score in helping SMU to a 45-10 win over Nevada in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.

2008 Season

Suspended last two games of the season for multiple rule team violations. Earned second team All-C-USA accolades … Started the first 10 games, catching 67 passes for 958 yards and nine TDs … Ranked 11th in the nation with 95.8 receiving yards per game and 19th with 6.7 catches per game … Finished the season as SMU's career leader in TD catches (27) … Set a new SMU season record with six 100-yard games in 2008 … Became the first player in SMU history to record three 600-yard receiving seasons … Caught three TD passes in the Texas State win … Had a season-high 132 yards receiving against Tulsa … Named to the College Football Top Ten & Pegasus News All-DFW College Football Team.

2007 Season

Started all 12 games … An honorable mention All-C-USA selection by the league's coaches … Caught 74 passes for 889 yards and nine TDs on the year … The 74 receptions rank as third-most ever in a season at SMU and the 889 yards rank fourth … Became just the fourth player in school history to record two 600-yard seasons (Jerry LeVias, Emanuel Tolbert & Ron Morris) … Caught 13 passes - and three TDs - in the season finale at Memphis and 10 passes in the UNT win … Had three 100-yard games - Arkansas State (100), Tulane (155) and Memphis (118) … Also handled punt returns and finished with 183 yards on 20 returns … Had a season-long return of 33 yards against Rice … Co-winner of the team's Wild Horse Club Award along with Justin Willis.

2006 Season

Named an honorable mention Freshman All-American at both wide receiver and kick returner by The Sporting News … Was an All-Freshman Conference USA pick at both spots by both the coaches and the media … A second-team All-C-USA selection by the Houston Chronicle, a third-team choice by the media and an honorable mention pick by the coaches … Co-winner of the James Bradley "New Mustang" award for consistent play along with Bryan McCann and Justin Willis … Caught TD passes in six straight games (Sam Houston through ECU), breaking a 29-year-old SMU record for consecutive games with a TD catch … Recorded team-highs with 46 grabs for 605 yards … Had a team-best nine receiving TDs - the most ever by a freshman at SMU and the second-most in a season ever at SMU … His 151 receiving yards against Houston made him the first SMU player with 150-or-more receiving yards since 1998 … Had pairs of TD receptions against Houston and ECU … Also returned kicks and ranked second in C-USA with a 24.0-yard average.

2005 Season

Redshirted.

High School

First-team All-District performer at three positions - back, wide receiver and safety … Had 66 carries for 499 yards and six TDs as a senior … Hauled in 24 catches for 414 yards and a score … Also threw for a touchdown … Recorded 49 tackles and three interceptions on defense … Named team's MVP … Tri-County Offensive Player of the Year … Earned seven All-District honors during his high school career … A four-sport letterman - football, baseball, basketball (15 ppg) and track … Chose SMU over Kansas, Houston, Baylor and TCU.

Personal

Undecided on a major.

 
 
Latest News
04/26/2010 - A closer look at the Steelers' picks: Round 3/82 -- Emmanuel Sanders, WR, 5-11, 180, SMU, Fast and quick, but slight of build, he could be the Hines Ward replacement in a few years. He caught 98 passes in the wide-open June Jones offense last season and had 235 in his career, mostly out of the slot position.

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