Prospect: Ace Sanders, WR, South CarolinaAce Sanders

Height: 5’7”

Weight: 173 lb.

Athleticism:

  • Top notch lateral agility and overall foot quickness
  • Very loose hips add to his “wiggle” and elusiveness
  • Surprising long speed for a short receiver, frequently won over the top
  • Impressive burst from a stopped position, can stop and start on a dime
  • Incredible small in stature and not going to be getting any bigger

Route Running:

  • Overall route running ability a plus to his game, makes deliberate and sharp cuts
  • Runs defenders off on comeback routes with superb timing and footwork
  • Handful for defenders in man coverage with quickness and change of speed ability
  • Tracks the ball naturally as a pass-catcher with ability to catch the ball over his shoulder, has even shown that as a punt returner
  • Not as much experience from the slot as preferred, lined up on the boundary frequently

Hands:

  • Predominantly a hands-catcher who can extend for the ball
  • Lack of pass-catching radius relates directly to his size
  • Shows awareness to hold ball in correct hand after the catch, will switch it over if need be

Running/Return Ability:

  • Very small and fast-moving target for tacklers
  • Ability to fire his feet in one on one situations in space consistently freezes defenders and gives him an advantage
  • Instinctive eluder of tacklers, will dip underneath when they aim too high, etc…
  • Never stops his feet or gives up on a play with the ball in his hands
  • Extremely productive punt returner for the Gamecocks with tons of experience

Leadership/Intangibles:

  • Compounds lack of frame and power as a blocker by being too passive and seemingly lacking physicality for it
  • Extremely confident and fearless football player, shows up in a positive way as a punt returner
  • One of four South Carolina players to receive the Outstanding Weight Room Award at the 2012 Spring Game

Overall:

When you think of Ace Sanders, you naturally skip right to that electric punt return against Missouri.  Sure, he’s been an incredibly productive punt returner and deserves a ton of credit for that.  Let’s not lose sight of the fact that he’s a very polished receiver as well.  He may have a bit of an adjustment to make when becoming a full-time slot receiver at the next level.  His skills translate perfectly to the position though, and the general public is really sleeping on his ability as a pass-catcher.  This may be partly due to the fact that not many expected him to declare this year.  Of course, when you put his numbers in the passing game up against others in this draft it’s very uninspiring.  He didn’t exactly have the best passing quarterback in the land and the offense was one that strongly featured the running game.  He was still able to rattle off 7 touchdown receptions, which shows his ability to separate in tight spaces in the redzone, much needed from the slot.  His immediate impact ability as a punt returner paired with some future potential to contribute from the slot should see Ace Sanders go no later than the middle of the third round.

Originally published at DetroitLionsDraft.com: Ace Sanders Scouting Report

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