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2024 NFL Draft Summer Spotlight: Arkansas RB Raheim Sanders

A potential RB1 candidate in the 2024 class emerges

Liberty v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills have done well this offseason to deliver on the short-term plan at the running back position. The team has added veteran hammer Damien Harris and Latavius Murray on one-year deals to a room that already includes James Cook with three years remaining on a rookie contract, and veteran Nyheim Hines with two years left on his.

Entering 2024, the Bills are set to have two years of Cook and one year remaining of Hines as things stand at the moment.

The Bills would figure to be a possible player for a running back at some point in the draft next April. With that, we should begin to consider some prospects who could be on the table for the franchise in the 2024 NFL Draft.

This does not figure to be an especially strong year at the running back spot, but there is a name in the SEC who is seemingly separating himself from the pack early on in the process.

That name — Raheim “Rocket” Sanders — a true junior this coming season at Arkansas who lit up the stat sheet in 2022. Sanders is a former four-star recruit in the 2021 class who had some questions to answer of whether he was going to be a running back or linebacker as a recruit. Clearly, running back is working out pretty well for Sanders — he amassed over 1,400 yards on the ground with a yards-per-carry average of 6.5 as a sophomore.

Let’s break down the film to see where Sanders currently stands as a prospect who has already been able to put a ton of work on tape. I watched All-22 film of Sanders taking on Alabama, Auburn, and Ole Miss in 2022 for this report.

Raheim “Rocket” Sanders Scouting Report

Raheim “Rocket” Sanders is surely one of the best running back prospects early on in the 2024 NFL Draft process. He has the recruiting pedigree, size, and the production profile in the SEC that should be easy box checkers for teams. Sanders isn’t nearly as polished as backs like Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs going into their junior seasons, but he’s certainly got plenty of likable traits — beginning with a 6’2”, 225-pound frame. If Sanders can rid himself of some false steps behind the line of scrimmage and learn to use his massive frame to his advantage, he could cement himself as the best back in the 2024 NFL Draft class.


  • NFL-caliber frame to handle between-the-tackles carries at a high volume
  • Flashes a powerful stiff arm in the arsenal
  • Twitchy for a big man to bend the line of scrimmage and create his own yards
  • When given the space to operate, he can really set up defenders to look silly in space
  • Puts his face in the fan in pass pro; Linebacker experience really shows up
  • Will run through arm tackles with ease
  • Sheer size allows him to win in the red zone, where he can push piles and fall forward in short areas of the field
  • Shows off soft hands as a pass catcher and has experience as a check-down option
  • Athleticism pops in the short areas. Looks to be a good athlete given the size profile; average speed for the position


  • After getting through the line of scrimmage, Sanders still needs to work on finding the optimal runway rather than heat-seeking to defenders
  • Some wasted steps behind the line when things have already developed; almost too patient and searching too often
  • Dancing on air; needs to punch second and third gear when things develop in front
  • Would like to see him become a more physically imposing rusher; much more finesse than power at this stage of his development; size should work to his advantage
  • True pass-pro reps are few and far between
  • Not a receiving back by trade; will need to improve as a route runner

Why Raheim Sanders fits the Bills

Sanders is an explosive back in the short areas with the frame to endure a large volume in the NFL that the Bills have not had in some time. Backs James Cook and Nyheim Hines are thought of as home-run-hitting pass catchers in the NFL who have not proven to carry a large workload yet. The Bills signed Damien Harris to be their hammer for one year in 2023, but there’s a vacancy coming. Sanders would be a fantastic fit who can stay on the field on third down to help pass protect for Josh Allen. Sanders and Cook would be a perfect pairing at the running back spot for years to come.