As a junior, Rutgers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu emerged to be one of the most productive pass-catchers in all of college football. He caught 115 passes last season, the fourth most in all of college football.
After emerging last season, Sanu decided to declare for the 2012 NFL draft.
Sanu was a productive receiver at Rutgers, but will his collegiate production translate to next-level success? Read through the following slides for analysis on the strengths and weaknesses of his game, and how he breaks down as an NFL prospect.
Route running is the key to Sanu’s success as a receiver. He excels in this area.
Sanu lacks elite athleticism, but he uses his route-running skills to get open. He runs clean, crisp routes to get into position away from a defender and for his quarterback to hit his target.
As a polished route runner already, Sanu should have little trouble adjusting to the full route tree of the offense he is drafted into.
Sanu had a horrendous 40-yard dash time of 4.67 seconds at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine, which was among the bottom five times for wide receivers at the combine. As a result, he was ranked as my eighth-biggest disappointment of the combine.
However, 40-yard dash times can be deceiving, and he did improve his time considerably at Rutgers’ pro day, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. That said, his speed does not show up on tape either.
Stretching the field is not an aspect of Sanu’s game. He does not have the speed to separate from cornerbacks downfield, and will not be much of a deep threat at the next level.
Catching 115 passes in one season is a strong indicator of having great hands, and the numbers do not lie in this instance. Sanu is a natural hands catcher who does a great job of catching the ball away from his body.
Sanu does have occasional lapses where he makes a bad drop, but he can also make very difficult grabs look easy. Even if he is going back across his body or making a leaping one-handed grab, he tends to still look natural in the process of doing so.
For a visual example of Sanu’s great hands, watch the video of his tremendous leaping one-handed touchdown catch vs. North Carolina.
Sanu is very good as a short-to-intermediate receiver, but his receptions rarely lead to long gains. In three seasons at Rutgers, he only had nine receiving gains of 25 yards or more, including just three this past season.
In comparison, Rutgers freshman wideout Brandon Coleman had nine in last season alone, while only having 17 receptions on the entire season. Another Rutgers junior wideout, Mark Harrison, had four receiving gains of 25 yards or more, with just 14 total receptions.
Sanu has never been known to be a big-play receiver. With his subpar speed being a hindrance of his ability to make big plays, that is highly unlikely to change at the next level.
At 6’1’’ and 211 pounds, Sanu has good size for the wide receiver position, and he uses it well. He is a physical receiver who does a good job of making catches through contact.
Even when Sanu gets hit or has a defender at his back or wrapping him up, he often still finds a way to make the catch if it is thrown his way. He does a good job of positioning his body away from defenders, and he uses his size and physicality well to catch the ball.
Sanu should be able to handle the challenge of being a wide receiver against bigger, harder-hitting defensive backs in the NFL.
Sanu does a good job with running crisp routes to get a step on defenders and make catches, but he does not often make plays in space with the ball in his hands.
He is not an explosive lateral athlete, and when there is a defender in front of him after he makes a catch, he is usually tackled quickly. While teams may be looking at him as a slot receiver, he does not possess the quickness to break down defensive backs in space that NFL teams will covet.
Double moves, quick cuts and spins are not a big part of Sanu’s game.
Sanu’s polished route-running skills, natural and reliable hands and his ability to make tough catches in traffic are all positive aspects of his game. However, his NFL potential is limited by his subpar athleticism and lack of big playmaking ability.
Sanu breaks down to be a solid, reliable possession receiver, but little more. While he is well worthy of a spot on an NFL depth chart for his ability to catch the football and run routes, he will likely spend his career as a No. 4 receiver due to his lack of deep-threat ability.
Some draft prognosticators have talked Sanu up as a late first-round or second-round draft pick, but he has been very overhyped. He should be a solid fourth-round selection, but would be a reach anywhere above the latter half of the third round.
Sanu’s Grade: Round 4
Positional Rank: No. 18
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 101
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