Can you go wrong with an Oklahoma State player with the last name of Sanders? Apparently, yes. Former OKST QB and now Ole Miss player, Spencer Sanders, is nearly universally ranked by draft experts as an UDFA prospect.
Shane Hallam 16th QB, 210th overall (late 6th round)
Sports Illustrated: Undersized. Not good enough to make an NFL roster. Can throw on run. Sufficient accuracy over the middle. Strong runner. Occasionally can drop ball in the bucket. Elongated throwing motion, takes too long to get ball out. Might have small hands, doesn't throw tight spiral. Inaccurate and lacks zip on passes outside the hashes. Erratic accuracy all over the field. Rarely hits deep passes in stride. Intermediate throws to outside fail to make it to the target. Very limited arm strength overall. Makes questionable throws, doesn't scan field well to find open receivers. Throws ball into traffic when smarter options are available. Undersized. Isn't intriguing in any way, an UDFA. [And you think I'm harsh in these profiles. SI essentially says that Sanders is complete garbage and has no shot whatsoever at sticking in the NFL. That's an aggressive take on a player who on several boards would be considered to be a priority UDFA.]
NFLMDD consensus big board 24th QB, 282nd overall (UDFA)
Jake Rigdon (Fanspeak) not ranked among 406 prospects (UDFA)
Steve Shoup (Fanspeak) 280th overall (UDFA)
BuffaloFAMBase big board 309th overall (UDFA)
NFLDB 314th overall (UDFA): Pure athlete. NFL arm. Lacks poise in pocket. Takes too many chances. Short.
TDN: Above average runner. Good touch. Throws well on move. Mechanical issues as passer, both upper and lower body. Some underthrown deep passes. Needs to lower INT numbers.
PFN mock draft simulator not ranked among 439 prospects (UDFA)
Ian Cummings (PFN) not ranked among top 20 QBs in draft (UDFA)
NFLDraftBlitz (written in October of 2022): Very impressive arm strength. Nice touch. Very athletic, good speed. Inconsistent accuracy. Leaves pocket prematurely. Questionable pre-snap processing. Throws off back foot too much. Has shown improvement, indicating he has yet to reach his ceiling.
My NFL comp for Sanders is Shea Patterson, an UDFA in 2020 who played at Michigan after transferring from Ole Miss. Patterson has played in the CFL and the USFL. Patterson was the top QB recruit in the nation. He had a season ending knee injury in 2017, tearing his PCL. His passer rating declined each year from 2017 until his final season at Michigan in 2019. I have Sanders graded as an UDFA, consistent with how most experts have him evaluated.
Name: Spencer Sanders. Turns 24 years old in September of 2023. 6th year bonus redshirt senior.
School: Ole Miss. Transferred from Oklahoma State.
Size: Listed 6'1'' tall and 210 pounds in 2022. BuffaloFAMBase estimated 4.5 second 40 time. NFLDB 4.62 second 40 time. Sports Illustrated 4.54 second 40 time.
4 star recruit from TX. Was the 2017 player of the year in Texas as a senior. Tore his ACL junior year in HS. Season ending ACL injury freshman year in HS.
Redshirted 2018. Torn ligament in right hand 2019. Ankle injury 2020. Lingering right shoulder injury in 2022, impacting his accuracy, not able to play in final 2022 season games due to shoulder injury.
Transferred to Ole Miss in 2023. Majored in university studies at OKST.
2019 (11 games): 62.8% completions, 2,065 yards, 16 TDs, 11 INTs, 8.4 ypa, 139-628-2 rushing. 18 sacks, 7 fumbles
2020 (9 games): 62.8% completions, 2,007 yards, 14 TDs, 8 INTs, 8.1 ypa, 101-269-2 rushing. 18 sacks, 5 fumbles
2021 (13 games): 62.0% completions, 2,839 yards, 20 TDs, 12 INTs, 7.2 ypa, 146-668-6 rushing. 15 sacks, 5 fumbles
2022 (10 games): 57.6% completions, 2,642 yards, 17 TDs, 9 INTs, 7.2 ypa. 107-391-8 rushing. 16 sacks, 0 fumbles
Natural athlete. Legitimate dual threat. Good acceleration. Very good agility in open field and in tight quarters. Elusiveness and run strength to pull out of arm tackles and get extra yards after initial contact. Vision and instincts as runner.
Has a live and loose arm. Plenty of velocity to gun it over middle to receivers before defense can react. Throws on the move with velocity. Dropped dime on 40 yard deep post. Can jam the ball into tight windows. Can throw with nice touch.
An aggressive player with playmaker instincts.
Experienced starter. If he were to win the starting job in 2023, he'd be a 5 year starter.
Tough, has played through injury. Answered the bell when asked to come off bench in relief and helped his team win.
While he's slightly shorter than ideal, he has a muscular upper body and decent bulk relative to his frame.
Grounded and team oriented mindset, supportive of teammates. Has perspective and doesn't take football for granted.
Doesn't display signs of progress and development. Made the same mistakes in 2022 that he did in 2021. A redshirt senior in 2022 who played more like a redshirt freshman or sophomore. Passer rating declined every season of his career, peaking the very first year he played back in 2019.
Played in spread system at OKST with wide WR splits, shotgun formation.
Elongated throwing motion. Doesn't have a compact delivery, exposing the ball a split second longer to sack fumbles and preventing him from releasing the ball quicker. Has a lower arm angle, more of a 3/4 delivery instead of being over the top, which could become more of an issue in the pros, because he's not a tall QB.
Sloppy footwork. Feet too close together. When he hesitates inside pocket, gets caught flat footed. Does not consistently set his feet and step towards the target, will throw without stable base, with undisciplined feet.
"Zip code" accuracy. Not precise with ball placements, struggles to put the ball exactly where he wants it or where it needs to go. Misses at all 3 levels, including blowing some very short and simple passes. Backshoulders don't go to the WR's backshoulder.
Does not see the field well or process the information quickly. Mental blunders that don't make any sense. He either isn't digesting what he's seeing on the field or else he is simply reckless and decides to just ignore the "stop signs" and flies through the intersection at full speed. Had INT where he had no business even attempting to target that WR against that zone coverage, but tried to jam in in anyway. Misread of coverage led to near pick six, but CB drops the ball.
Puts ball in harm's way. Makes predetermined throws into coverage instead of recognizing defenders driving on the route. Not a game manager, makes risky and poor decisions. Will stubbornly try to drive ball into a crowd, attempting hero throws. Doesn't throw with anticipation, resulting in late throws forced into tight coverage instead of hitting the receiver when they initially come open.
Average pocket awareness. Stands in one spot when he should be sliding. When moved off his spot, has poor sense for how to organize his feet so that he regain balance when he throws. Indecisive. 2 defenders collide, the primary read is open, but QB doesn't throw the pass, hesitates as the defender recovers and gets back into position, late to turn his head to look at the rest of the progression.
Does not consistently tuck the ball tightly to his chest when running.
Will be 2 years older than an average prospect. Lengthy injury history stretching back to his high school days. Injuries both to his legs and to his throwing shoulder.
Has a mellow, low key personality.
Sanders was limited for much of spring practices at Ole Miss with a shoulder injury, but performed well in the team's spring game. He is in a 3 way QB battle with Jaxson Dart and Walker Howard. All 3 of those QBs were highly touted recruits.
It feels to me like there are more dual threat QBs projected to be in the 2024 NFL draft than any class I can remember in recent years. Maybe that's just a sign of the times and the modern trend in college football. It also could be a product of the covid year giving a player like Sanders an extra year of eligibility, resulting in a larger group where you potentially could have early entrant younger QBs mixed in with much older QBs who stayed in school longer. Obviously, the class won't be as deep if the younger QBs elect to remain in school instead of entering the draft.
Regardless, Sanders is another one of the dual threat QBs. I don't agree with SI when they say he has no shot at making a roster. Bryce Perkins made a roster with the Rams. Sanders is such a flawed prospect that I don't see him as having a high ceiling or much developmental upside, but he has running ability and while he doesn't have a great arm he has enough arm talent to at least have a chance at a practice squad or back end of the roster role.
Shea Patterson didn't even make it to fall camp. As a rookie UDFA he was waived in July. Patterson was the number one overall pick in the USFL draft, then played on Jeff Fisher's team. Spencer Sanders might end up following a similar path and never even appear in an NFL preseason game. To avoid that fate, the first step likely would require him to win the starting job for Ole Miss in 2023.