Player Spotlight: Texas TE Ja'Tavion Sanders

2023 Big 12 Championship - Oklahoma State v Texas
2023 Big 12 Championship - Oklahoma State v Texas / Ron Jenkins/GettyImages

College: Texas

Position: Tight End

Age: 20

Height: 6'4"

Weight: 243 lbs

40-yard dash: 4.55 seconds


Ja'Tavion Sanders has established himself as one of the best tight ends in college football this season. In 2022, he was recognized for his exceptional performance with First-Team All-Big 12 honors and a John Mackey Award semifinalist nomination. His remarkable 54 receptions and 613 receiving yards that year cemented his place in Texas football history, setting new school records for tight ends.

Prior to joining the Longhorns, Ja'Tavion Sanders was a decorated high school athlete. He garnered All-America, all-state, and two-time all-district honors, leading his team to a 5A Division 1 state championship in 2020. His exceptional talent was further recognized with his selection to the Under Armour All-America Game.

Sanders' dedication extends beyond the field. He exemplifies academic excellence, having been named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team and twice earning a spot on the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll.


Run After Catch: Sanders is great after the catch, excelling at turning short passes into big gains. His strong hands, combined with his powerful running style, which allows him to break tackles and gain significant yardage after the catch. He is one of the most dangerous players in all of college football with the ball in his hands.

Athleticism in Space: Despite not being the most explosive tight end in the draft, Sanders has shown good athleticism in open space. He can change direction quickly and create separation from defenders.

Versatility: Sanders can line up in-line, in the slot, or even as an H-back. NFL teams will love his ability to line up wherever they want him, and he will be a nightmare for defensive coordinators to gameplan against.


Leverage as a blocker: While Sanders is a strong player, he can sometimes lose leverage against bigger defenders, especially at the point of attack. This can limit his effectiveness as a blocker at timrd.

Overall athleticism: While Sanders possesses good athleticism, he doesn't have the elite speed or explosiveness of some of the top tight end prospects in the NFL, like a Kyle Pitts or Travis Kelce. This may limit his ceiling as a receiving threat at the next level.

NFL Comparison: Jonnu Smith

Both Sanders and Smith are great athletes with chiseled frames. They are both big, strong tight ends who are good after the catch and can be used in a variety of ways in the passing game. However, both players can struggle with leverage against bigger defenders and may not be the best blockers for tight ends. They are pseudo-wide receivers who excel in the passing game.

Draft Projection: 2nd or 3rd Round

Ja'Tavion Sanders is a talented tight end with the potential to be a very productive player in the NFL. His combination of size, strength, receiving ability, and run-after-catch potential make him a valuable asset for any offense. However, his limitations as a blocker and lack of elite athleticism could cause some teams to hesitate selecting him with a super high pick. Overall, Sanders is projected to be a 2nd or 3rd round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.