WR JALEN SAUNDERS, OKLAHOMA

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5’9” – 157 lbs. – 4.45e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2010: 30 – 462 – 3 (15.4)*
2011: 50 – 1,065 – 12 (21.3)*
2012: 62 – 829 – 3 (13.4)

OVERVIEW:

Spent his first two seasons at Fresno State before transferring to Oklahoma, contributing as a kick returner and on the occasional reverse and being named to the All-WAC First Team in 2011. Missed four games of his junior season at Oklahoma due to transfer rules, appearing in a total of nine games.

STRENGTHS:

•    Highly productive over all four seasons in college despite transferring.
•    Has been successful in two different environments and schemes.
•    Top-end speed is impressive; typically not caught from behind.
•    Very agile, difficult for one defender to bring down in the open field.
•    Runs routes to all three different levels of the field, not just short ones.
•    Does a nice job of tracking the ball over his shoulder of deep patterns.
•    Settles into soft spots in zone coverage rather than continuing routes.
•    Reliable hands-catcher, doesn’t try to trap the ball with his body.
•    Capable of protecting his body from big hits, important given build.
•    Offers additional value by contributing on reverses and as a returner.

WEAKNESSES:

•    Dramatically undersized for an outside option with a very thin build.
•    Overall lack of size/bulk may contribute to injuries at the pro level.
•    Hasn’t faced much press coverage in college, may struggle to release.
•    Probably best suited against zone coverage than against man coverage.
•    Almost always lines up in the slot, relegated there as a pro as well.
•    Will have to deal with the negative stigma attached to Sooners receivers.

SUMMARY:

Saunders doesn’t possess the same route-running diversity of former Sooners receiver Ryan Broyles, but he is a dynamic slot option who demonstrates good awareness versus zone coverage and can also contribute as a return specialist. His overall movement skills make him a difficult player to cover despite his diminutive frame. However, it’s fair to wonder how he will respond to press-man coverage at the pro level, whether his body will hold up, and what teams are willing to invest in a strict slot/return man. RD 3-4

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