This is a joint fanpost about the Wisconsin linebacker duo of Jack Sanborn and Leo Chenal. For the longest time, I resisted doing a profile on Chenal, because it seemed like he was ranked too high to be a consideration for the Rams. Chenal is the 35th overall prospect on PFF's board. He's ranked 48th overall by ESPN. He's 50th on Shoup's board for the Fanspeak draft sim. My sense is that Chenal has a large number of grassroots draft fans. Lately, I've gotten a general feeling that the professional scouting community might not be as high on Chenal as the typical NFL fan on the street. Lance Zierlein has Chenal ranked as only the 122nd overall prospect, well within range for the Rams to target at 104. Sanborn isn't as highly ranked, but some people like him as a Day 3 prospect.
6'1 5/8'' tall, 234 pounds, 30.5'' arms, 9 5/8'' hands, 74 1/8'' wingspan.
Shrine Bowl: 6'1.5'' tall, 239 pounds, 30 3/4'' arms, 9 3/8'' hands, 74 3/4'' wingspan.
4.73 sec (40 time), 20 bench reps, 34.5'' vert jump, 9'6'' broad jump.
Sanborn is high cut, with short arms. In terms of his build and measurements, he reminds me a bit of former Cal linebacker, Evan Weaver, who as a 6th round pick in 2020. Weaver spent his rookie season on a PS, didn't make the team at the start of his 2nd year and is currently a street FA.
Turns 22 years old in July. Dad was college football player at Oregon who died from a heart attack at the age of 43 when Jack was only 4 years old. 4 star recruit. Backup as freshman, then 3 year starter.
2021 (13 games): 91 tackles, 16 TFLs, 5 sacks.
Career: 27.5 TFLs, 10 sacks, 4 INTs, 3 FF, 8 PD.
Described as having a consistent personality by teammates and coaches, holds teammates accountable, leads by example.
Had a dislocated and gashed finger on his left hand in 2021, reluctantly came out of the game for medical treatment. Appeared to injure his ankle in 2021 game, but stayed in and kept playing. Studied life sciences communication.
ESPN 202nd overall (6th rd)
PFN not ranked
PFF 144th (early 5th rd)
Shane Hallam 230th (7th rd)
Brian Bosarge 282nd (UDFA)
Drafttek 203rd (late 6th rd)
Jake Rigdon (Fanspeak) 208th (late 6th rd)
Fanspeak (Shoup) 139th (late 4th rd)
Lance Zierlein 5.63 grade (bottom of roster or PS). Technically sound, limited in space, lacks desired length and athleticism. Good play recognition.
Not drafted in CBSSports 7 round mock draft.
In the box, thumper LB.
Reads plays well and triggers forward to attack quickly. Active, has good motor. Saw jet sweep developing and very quickly attacks it, penetrating before the blockers could get set up and blows up the play. Good recognition of pulling blockers. Burst past climbing TE to evade block, then stuffed the RB right at the LOS.
Smart player. Calls out switches in zone coverage in timely fashion. Made smart gap adjustment on the fly, recognizing that the OLB was about to get outflanked and was alert to the danger. Aware in zone after play action fake, scanned to find receiver to cover.
Strong, heavy tackler. Meets RBs square in the hole and stones them cold.
Uses hands very well to stay clean against 2nd level blockers and at the LOS when blitzing to get off of pass blocks. Defeats blockers as if he had longer arms. Protects his legs, swims over climbing blockers or swipes away their punch, push pull move against OT.
Patient and disciplined when scraping.
Will run over pass blocking RBs and overpower them on his way to the QB.
Accelerates through open lanes and gets downhill with burst to pressure QBs and get to RBs. Enough speed in race situations to cut off scrambling QBs and keep them from turning the corner at the sideline. Good forward burst on blitz.
Good football IQ. Got 2 INTs under slant routes where he went off script and made instinctive plays outside of his assigned gap (including victimizing Justin Herbert).
Little value against the pass. Eaten up by RB on Texas route.
Takes tiny steps in backpedal. Upright in pedal. Never in man coverage.
Juked in space. Missed tackle in hole.
Lacks lateral speed to pursue towards sideline.
Multiple times missed sacks due to short arms and lack of length. Unable to challenge passing windows on underneath routes due to lack of length. Made great read on run and attacked downhill, but due to short arms was only barely able to trip up the RB.
Both Sanborn and Chenal have inflated college stats to the extent that they play in an attack oriented defensive scheme that uses both of the LBs to attack the backfield, setting them up for a high number of TFLs.
6'2 5/8'' tall, 250 pounds, 31'' arms, 9 3/4'' hands, 75.5'' wingspan.
4.53 sec (40 time), 40.5'' vert jump, 10'8'' broad jump.
Turns 22 years old in October. 3 star recruit. Studied retailing and consumer behavior.
2021 (11 games): 115 tackles, 18.5 TFLs, 8 sacks, 2 FF. Also was starter in 2020.
Career: 25 TFLs, 11 sacks, 3 FF, INT.
ESPN 48th overall, 5th ranked ILB, (2nd rd)
PFN 79th overall (3rd rd)
PFF 35th overall (2nd rd). Had 3rd best LB grade in nation last season and his run defense grade was barely behind the record set by Micah Parsons. Chenal had a better PFF grade last year than Devin Lloyd.
Shane Hallam 45th (2nd rd)
Brian Bosarge 54th (2nd rd)
Drafttek 90th (late 3rd)
Fanspeak (Rigdon) 71st (3rd rd)
Fanspeak (Shoup) 50th (2nd rd)
Lance Zierlein 6.14 draft grade, 122nd overall (4th round). Compared to Rey Maualuga (2nd round 2008, Bengals, USC). Like a cinder block, densely muscled frame, outstanding power and toughness, rare power at POA. Technique, play recognition and discipline need more work. Tightly bound, lacks fluidity and lateral agility. Won't offer much in coverage. Tyler Linderbaum had trouble moving him. Limited by athletic deficiencies.
Ryan Wilson (CBSSports) mock draft 85th overall.
Very aggressive, in constant attack mode, predatory mindset.
Elite lower body strength and explosion. Gets low and powerfully stacks blocks with leverage and strength. Tackled RB with his back to the RB, reaching around with his arms behind his back.
Excellent in the A gap both as run defender and as pass rusher. In short yardage situations he is like having an extra DT, because he has tremendous lower body strength. Explosive off the snap and can burst into the backfield before the OL can close the gap. A problem and threat that requires extra attention from the offense when he's mugging the center. Shed Tyler Linderbaum at the LOS. Makes a big impact on 3rd down, 4th down and GL short yardage situations.
Slanted through line, beat TE block and blew up run play. Fired downhill and blew up toss sweep.
Powers through guards and RBs as blitzer. Pushes OL backwards as pass rusher.
Body control to make tight radius turns as if doing hoop drill at Combine, able to redirect around the blocker and go towards the ball.
Stacks and sheds blockers. Shoulder charge to OT at POA and overpowers the block.
Got an INT off of a deflection that didn't count due to a penalty.
Makes wrong reads and sometimes does things on field that don't make any sense. Impatient reading mesh point, guessed wrong and started to chase the QB when the RB had the ball. Not aware to slot WR releasing on play action pass and gets burned for long completion. On wide runs such as gap plays, counters and outside zone, too many times he went to the wrong side of the 2nd level block and got out of position. Safety is coming up in run support, Chenal doesn't attack his block with the correct leverage to control his gap assignment, tries to go directly to the RB inside of the block and when the RB cuts away from the S this opens up a large lane for the RB to burst into the secondary and break containment. Dives inside the center's 2nd level block when he should feel the center's body positioning and anticipate that he needs to flow over the top of the block. On gap run, goes to the wrong side of the TE's block. On very long 3rd down, nearly makes a gigantic mistake in man coverage that had the potential to result in a 1st down when he doesn't timely read the crossing routes in front of him. Outside zone, jumps to the wrong side of the OT and ends up all the way over on the center, opening up a huge lane for the RB. Appeared to shove QB late out of bounds.
Not rangy, average speed pursuing to sideline.
Ugly diagonal pedal in space when in pass coverage. Never in man coverage.
When he closes on the runner towards the sideline, his hips are too open and his approach angle is not disciplined, resulting in broken and missed tackles as he tries to grab the runner too high and isn't centered for the hit.
Really gets exposed out in space. Misses tackles after short passes. Limited change of direction, a YAC vulnerability. Roasted by RB on Texas route.
I think Chad Muma not only is a better prospect than Leo Chenal, I have Muma on a higher tier. Muma has the potential to be good against both the run and the pass. Chenal might be a very good run defender and good blitzer, but he'll probably always be weak in pass coverage. An NFL team might play Chenal on early downs, then take him off the field in passing situations. Consequently, I have Leo Chenal as a 4th round prospect. On LZ's board, Muma is 95th, ranked 27 slots ahead of Chenal. If both of those LBs were available to the Rams at 104, without hesitation I'd go with Muma.
Jack Sanborn is a smart player and has good play strength, but he's even more limited in size and athleticism compared with Chenal. I see Sanborn as a backup LB, maybe a special teams captain. He has a chance to earn a roster spot, especially with a 3-4 scheme team, but like Evan Weaver he also could bounce out of the NFL relatively quickly. I have him with a 6th round grade. If a team didn't want to pay the premium to get Chenal earlier in the draft, but still wanted to add a run defending LB, Sanborn might be a viable fall back option, either later in the draft or possibly even as an UDFA.