He thought he was going to be a Bengal, and the voice on the other line told him so. Sanu wasn’t projected to be a first rounder but some analysts such as Sports Illustrated’s Tony Pauline said it wouldn’t be a surprise for the second-round prospect to jump into the late end of the first round.
Turns out Cincinnati did wind up calling him still, anyway, in the third round with the 83rd overall pick.
Getting Sanu with that pick will turn out to be quite the steal for the Bengals.
Cincinnati needed a wide receiver opposite second-year player A.J. Green for Andrew Dalton, another great draft pick from last season, to throw to. Last year’s second leading receiver Jerome Simpson recently signed with the Minnesota Vikings.
CBS Sports Rob Rang raved about Sanu’s readiness for the NFL saying, “There are plenty of receivers in the 2012 draft with greater speed and natural playmaking ability than Sanu. But for my money few are safer NFL prospects than the former Rutgers star,” and, “Sanu is better prepared than most collegiate receivers to make the NFL jump.”
As a junior, Sanu became the Big East’s all-time leader in receptions with 210. For the Scarlet Knights in 2011, he caught 115 passes for 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns. He did all this with two different starting quarterbacks going in and out of the lineup. With some consistency, Sanu could really develop a strong rapport with his starting quarterback.
Sanu’s strengths lie in his underneath routes, his athleticism (Sanu was a Wildcat quarterback for Rutgers), his strength—Sanu is a big receiver, listed at 6'2" and 211 pounds—his ability to just flat out catch the ball and his toughness. His toughness likely comes from going many years in his childhood back and forth from New Jersey to his parents’ native war-torn Sierra Leone.
The biggest reason Sanu slid was because of his speed. Sanu has never really been considered a deep threat and at the NFL Combine he ran only a 4.67 40-yard dash. The 40-time backed-up what scouts thought of his speed and explosiveness.
That only brings up the age-old argument of how efficient the Combine really is at evaluating a player. His sprint may not have been exciting, but if you watch him play you will see how he goes across the middle and cuts without fear and how he out-jumps most corners for the ball.
The Bengals will be getting a tough kid who has accomplished a lot on the field for a team that plays in one of the BCS’ bigger conferences. His strength and skill set make him a piece that will fit in pretty well right away on an offense that already features some impressive young talent.
Sanu will reward the Bengals for actually picking him and hurt those that didn’t.