Ace Sanders Scouting Report

February 7th, 2013

Ace Sanders might be the best return man in this draft (photo courtesy Bradenton.com)


QB / RB / FB / WR / TE / OT / OG / OC / DT / DE / OLB / ILB / CB / SAF
Prospect: Ace Sanders
Height: 5’8”
Weight: 175
Grade: 6.89 (Grading Scale)


Scouting Report
Athleticism:
+Top notch lateral agility and overall foot quickness
+Very loose hips add to his “wiggle” and elusiveness
+Surprising long speed for a short receiver, frequently won over the top
+Impressive burst from a stopped position; can stop and start on a dime
-Incredible small in stature and not going to be getting any bigger

Route Running:
+Overall route running ability a plus to his game, makes deliberate and sharp cuts
+Runs defenders off on comeback routes with superb timing and footwork
+Handful for defenders in man coverage with quickness and change of speed ability
+Tracks the ball naturally as a pass-catcher with ability to catch the ball over his shoulder, has even shown that as a punt returner
-Not as much experience from the slot as preferred, lined up on the boundary frequently

Hands:
+Predominantly a hands-catcher who can extend for the ball
-Lack of pass-catching radius relates directly to his size
+Shows awareness to hold ball in correct hand after the catch, will switch it over if need be

Running/Return Ability:
+Very small and fast-moving target for tacklers
+Ability to fire his feet in one on one situations in space consistently freezes defenders and gives him an advantage
+Instinctive eluder of tacklers, will dip underneath when they aim too high, etc…
+Never stops his feet or gives up on a play with the ball in his hands
+Extremely productive punt returner for the Gamecocks with tons of experience

Leadership/Intangibles:
-Compounds lack of frame and power as a blocker by being too passive and seemingly lacking physicality for it
+Extremely confident and fearless football player, shows up in a positive way as a punt returner
+One of four South Carolina players to receive the Outstanding Weight Room Award at the 2012 Spring Game

Overall:
When you think of Ace Sanders, you naturally skip right to that electric punt return against Missouri. Sure, he’s been an incredibly productive punt returner and deserves a ton of credit for that. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that he’s a very polished receiver as well. He may have a bit of an adjustment to make when becoming a full-time slot receiver at the next level. His skills translate perfectly to the position though, and the general public is really sleeping on his ability as a pass-catcher. This may be partly due to the fact that not many expected him to declare this year. Of course, when you put his numbers in the passing game up against others in this draft it’s very uninspiring. He didn’t exactly have the best passing quarterback in the land and the offense was one that strongly featured the running game. He was still able to rattle off 7 touchdown receptions, which shows his ability to separate in tight spaces in the redzone, much needed from the slot. His immediate impact ability as a punt returner paired with some future potential to contribute from the slot should see Ace Sanders go no later than the middle of the third round.–Darren Page

Scouting Notes:
South Carolina vs. Missouri
• Fields first punt at the five yard line, gets out to exactly the 20 yard line
• Flashes elusiveness, ability to dip under tackles, and ability to stop on a dime to make defenders miss as he runs back the second punt 45 yards, as impressive of a return as you’ll see
• Impressive third return after picking it up on the bounce, shows extremely quick cuts and vision to bounce the return multiple times
• Completely whiffs as a blocker on screen pass, defender runs past and eventually makes the tackle
• Wins over the top on a corner route after eluding press coverage well, tracks the ball well over his shoulder and catches it with his fingertips while fully extended
• Makes the first man miss and picks up 15 yards before running out of bounds on punt return in 3rd quarter

South Carolina vs. Clemson
• Plenty of separation on a deep comeback route, runs off the cornerback well
• Turns upfield very quickly after a short catch and slips a safety on the sideline before being run out of bounds well downfield
• Toe taps well on the sidelines on a deep corner route
• Unable to hang on to the ball through contact from behind on a short curl route
• Beats over the top defender out of his break on post route, slips out of a safety’s tackle and into the endzone
• Decides not to throw on double pass, reverses fields and gains 3 yards

South Carolina vs. Tennessee
• Gets open on a pick play with an out route and turns upfield before running out of bounds
• Easily loses a linebacker in zone coverage with lateral quickness and adjusts well to a tipped ball to make a catch
• Gets helmet playside of cornerback as a blocker in the running game but offers no resistance and frankly not enough effort
• Unable to turn the corner on a well-read reverse and runs out of bounds to take a two yard loss
• Tracks back and makes an over-the-shoulder catch on a punt, ends up a nice return and good decision
• Multiple effective cut blocks in space on quick hitters to the outside
• Wins by a step on a deep post route against man coverage, inaccurate throw
• Contorts body perfectly on a corner route in the endzone, extends hands well to catch the touchdown pass
• Fights off contact and has a step on his defender on a wheel route, ball goes off his fingertips

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