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Buffalo Bills 2023 NFL Draft Scouting Spotlight: LB Drew Sanders

Another Tremaine Edmunds appears?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 25 Arkansas at Missouri Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills currently have a pair of pending “big fish” free agents who are set to hit the open market on March 15. That’s now less than three weeks away. One of those players who could be set to get the bag this offseason is linebacker Tremaine Edmunds — a stud MIKE linebacker who hasn’t even turned 25 yet. If Edmunds hits the market, he’s going to be a very hot commodity after putting together his best year on tape this past season. Players with Edmunds’ production don’t hit the market at age 24 very often. Edmunds won’t be cheap to keep. It’s certainly worth questioning whether he’s coming back to lead the defense in 2023.

The draft is all about finding cheap talent while filling any necessary holes in the process. As we’ve already mentioned, one of those spots where the Bills could turn to is at linebacker. If the team is looking to invest highly into a linebacker, there’s one name standing out above the rest of the pack in this year’s linebacker class. It’s Arkansas linebacker Drew Sanders. First off, the physical profile of Edmunds is very similar to Sanders. Their college utilization is also similar in that Edmunds had experience as a talented stand-up edge rusher just as Sanders does with legitimate sack production to boot. Sanders is the closest thing to Edmunds since Edmunds himself came out of the draft in 2018.

Let’s talk tape. I’ve watched three games of All-22 from Sanders this season (versus Alabama, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss). Below are my thoughts on the strengths he brings to the table and things he needs to improve upon when he hears his name called in April.

Drew Sanders Scouting Report

Sanders is a linebacker who just finished a monstrous breakout season for the Arkansas Razorbacks in 2022. The third-year player was a former five-star recruit who found himself as a key reserve in Alabama over the course of two seasons. For that reason, Sanders transferred to the Razorbacks where he put up video-game numbers this past year aligning from the edge and as an off-ball linebacker. Sanders offers extremely high upside at the next level despite his limited overall production in college due to his measurements and athletic ability to play in space.


  • Master navigator to find his way into his run fit and create impact plays in the run game
  • Range is real; Has legit ability to chase NFL-caliber runners sideline-to-sideline
  • Impressive ability to see an angle from depth to diagnose and make the open-field play
  • His get-out and want-to has the ability to cause violent collisions at the mesh point
  • Shows ability to shed blocks and make plays at the point of attack
  • Tremendous skill to knife his gap and run the hoop to make an extra play
  • Shows flashes of convincing take-on wins
  • Linemen will have a difficult time containing his pursuit to the football when he gets a clean run fit
  • His activeness in zone is encouraging; Length allows him to affect passing lanes
  • Hips are buttery smooth and allow him to turn and run when necessary


  • Missed tackles pop up some on film; More of a player who needs cleanup than a secure solo tackler at this time
  • Internal clock plus read and react could afford to go off a bit quicker
  • Motor questions; Not giving his all on every play gives some pause
  • Would benefit by playing the run with more strength than finesse; Has the tendency to want to beat offensive linemen with feints and movements rather than taking on the block
  • Fails to stonewall opposing blockers, leading to his own displacement and easy access
  • Limited college production; One-year wonder from a statistical output standpoint

Why He Fits the Bills

Tremaine Edmunds was, at one time, a passive player with all of the physical gifts in the world to be a fantastic off-the-ball linebacker. That all came together under head coach Sean McDermott’s eye. Drew Sanders embodies much of what Edmunds was coming out of college with perhaps even more useful ability as a coverage player from day one in the NFL. If Sanders is able to play more as a forceful player rather than a finesse one, he will have every opportunity to take the same trajectory as Edmunds at the next level. No player at pick 27 is going to have a perfect profile. But if the Bills need (or want) to replace Edmunds with a similar entity, Sanders makes a world of sense in that aspect. Sanders remains a ball of clay for what his ceiling presents.