mebody pinch me because I must be dreaming, April has come at last! Are you guys as excited as I am?
For the next few weeks leading up to draft day I am going to breakdown a player a day that I believe the Ravens should/will target. For the next few days I will be looking at second round targets. Next up, Rutgers WR Mohamed Sanu.
The Ravens hit a home run on a Rutgers second rounder in 2008, they struck again last year on a second round WR. they could attempt to strike gold on a combination of the two(WR from Rutgers in the second round) if Sanu were to slide in the draft.
What He Does Well
Sanu is the definition of a possession WR. he has a near identical skill set to former first round pick(by the Giants) Hakeem Nicks of UNC (albeit Nicks is a bit faster). Sanu has incredible hands, in four game tapes I never once saw him double clutch a ball or drop a pass. he produced an elite stat line last season racking up 115 receptions for over 1200 yards and 7 TDs. Not only was his production top notch, but he did it on a team with a strong run oriented offense and a poor QB situation. Sanu was the go-to target for the Scarlet Knights all season and it seems like he is wide open on every single play. he gets elite separation by running strong sharp routes. Sanu is also a talented blocker. He was required to block often in college and while he wasnt what I would classify as a “dominant” blocker, but more often than not, he gets the job done. Sanu ran a pro style offense at Rutgers. The offense was run heavy, but he was required to run a nearly full route tree and has a good repertoire of moves that he uses well to get good separation. Sanu also has an incredible initial burst, his top end speed is low but his quickness off the line is impressive and it was surprise CBs and force them into chase mode.
Where He Needs to Improve
The Things that are major problems are not really things sanu can improve. The first, and biggest, obstical is his injury history. In his three years at Rutgers, only, last year, did he play a complete season. The injuries arent huge concerns because none of them were major injuries, mostly just sprained ankle, injured wrist, etc.. The other issue is his speed. Sanu does not possess or play with elite straight lin speed. He often got away with it in college but it could be a bigger problem in the pros where CBs are more used to strong route runners than college CBs.
How I See It
First, let’s start off with an amazing catch. The first time through it doesnt look like much, just wait for the replay…wait for it….BAM! if your first reaction wasnt to say “WOW” out loud, then im not sure you are a football fan. That is an NFL catch. now on to the real tape.
The first play of the video features a normal thing for Sanu (and in this video). a horrible pass by the QB. Sanu had no chance at the ball and it was intercepted. Sanu makes the tackle.
The second play is just a quick screen, nothing special there.
The next play is a run, Sanu didn’t really block, but he held off his CB just long enough for the play to take its course, not a good play, but certainly not a bad one.
The next play is yet another screen, Sanu tries to make a nice little move on the back end but ends up not being able to tiptoe down the sideline and stay in bounds.
The next play is a pass knocked away from Sanu by a CB. Sanu probably should have made the catch but the CB definitely got a hand on it.
The next play is a punt return, but it isn’t important because the Ravens don’t use tall players to return punts or kicks(Sanu is 6’1″).
The next play is a great route by Sanu. the Huskies play a soft zone and Sanu immediately finds a soft spot ad gives his QB an easy pass for a quick first down. this play is the exact thing the Ravens needed last year.
Fast forward to the 2:09 mark and see another awful play by the Rutgers QB. simple screen screwed up(seriously, this is one of the easiest plays in all of sports) he overthrows the “sweet spot” by a good 2 feet and the ball is behind Sanu.
Nice blocking by Sanu on the TD run, I have seen the Ravens run this play a dozen times and Sanu blocked perfectly.
The next play is another bad throw, and this time sanu plays a little defense. he does a great job of breaking up the pass and preventing the big play by the defense.
Another play, another beautiful route by Sanu, easy throw and catch for a decent gain. fans love the big plays, but it is short passes like this are what breaks down a defense. This is where games are won and lost, and Sanu does this as well as anybody.
Go to 3:50. This is a sweet play. Sanu makes a nice catch on a quick route and sheds a defender, finds open space, stiff arms the safety and then runs for a solid 15 yards before he is caught from behind. about a 20 yard gain on a short pass. Sanu has a whole lot of run after the catch ability.
4:27. Sanu again finds a soft spot in the zone coverage and makes a nice play. again this is something the Ravens could use.
Don’t pay much attention to the pick. the QB should never have thrown that ball. It was a read and react play and the QB failed to read or react. that ball should have gone somewhere else or been thrown away, instead he threw to a triple(!) covered WR.
Sanu has a decent chance of sliding to the Ravens. he was once thought of as a first round lock but the rises of players like Kendall Wright, Stephen Hill, Reuben Randall, and even Bryan Quick and Tommy Streeter have forced Sanu into being considered, at best, the 5th or 6th best WR in the class. Couple that with the rock solid fact that WRs always always always slide further than expected in the draft(i.e. Torrey Smith, Dez Bryant, Randy Moss, Jerry Rice, etc.) and you have the recipe for a slider. Sanu has a great skill set and some of the most impressive hands of any college player Ive ever seen, this guy just does not drop passes. period. That said his injuries need to be taken into account and are a big reason why Sanu could slide. Sanu would be a great fit for the Ravens and a slam dunk pick if he falls that far. With good QB play, Sanu could be a very solid no. two WR leaving Torrey Smith a clear path to the number one role.
Pro Player Comparison: Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints