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NFL Draft Prospect: Texas Longhorns Tight End Could Take New Orleans Saints Offense to Next Level
For years, the Saints have undervalued the tight end position, but this Longhorn playmaker could change that in this year’s NFL Draft.

It has been a long time since a New Orleans Saints tight end has been relevant in the NFL. Jimmy Graham was one of the best offensive players in franchise history during his first stint from 2010 to 2014. Frankly, the Saints haven’t put much emphasis on the position since Graham was moved during the 2015 offseason.

Juwan Johnson, a converted wideout, can provide matchup issues for teams as a receiver, but he is most efficient when lined up in space. Foster Moreau is more of a classic in-line tight end, with little receiving ability.
Several Texas Longhorns offensive players are likely to receive a lot of attention in the early stages of the NFL Draft. Here is a peek at one of those prospects.
Ja’Tavion Sanders, TE – Texas; 6’4″, 245 lbs.
Ja’Tavion Sanders attended Billy Ryan High School in Texas, where he played football as a wide receiver/defensive end and basketball as a forward. In spring workouts as a freshman at Texas in 2021, he practiced on both offense and defense before coaches eventually placed him at tight end.

Despite the presence of multiple weapons on the Texas offense, Sanders was a standout performer during the last two years. In 2022, he set a Longhorns record for catches and yards as a tight end, with 54 receptions for 613 yards and five touchdowns. He set his own record previous season with 682 yards on 45 catches and two touchdowns. Sanders was named first team All-Big 12 in back-to-back seasons for his efforts.

Sanders is an amazing receiver, with good length and quickness for the position. He has outstanding route skills, excellent open field speed, and is lethal on seam routes. He has a good catch radius, strong hands, uses his body to protect opponents, and frequently makes plays in traffic.

Sanders is a near-impossible guard for linebackers, since he is equally effective coming directly off the line or from the slot. After the grab, he sprints with power and surprising elusiveness, pulling away from opponents with a long stride. As a blocker, he demonstrates superb hand placement and basics.

While Sanders has the frame to develop muscle, his slender physique may hinder him early in his career. He’s simply not powerful enough at this point to perform regularly as an in-line blocker.

Once in the NFL, Sanders will need to run a more diverse intermediate route tree in order to be a credible threat in all situations. He’s also had some difficulty handling traffic over the middle in goal-line situations.
Ja’Tavion Sanders is expected to be selected early on Day 2 and will most likely be the second tight end this year.

Sanders, along with Georgia’s Brock Bowers, is the most polished receiver in this year’s draft class. He should be an immediate contribution to the passing game and has the potential to be a key offensive weapon.

A dynamic tight end has propelled several NFL teams’ offenses to new heights. Klint Kubiak, the new offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints, has found innovative methods to incorporate tight ends into his system. Juwan Johnson could have a breakout year, but having another excellent receiver at the position would be a bonus.

Sanders might be a huge help for New Orleans if he is available when they make their second-round pick at 45 overall.






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