Carolina Panthers Rookie Spotlight: EDGE Ja’Tavion Sanders


Sanders is a freak at 6’4 and 240+ lbs with top athleticism. Coming out of high school, Sanders was a legitimate high-major recruit on both sides of the ball and was the #1 athlete in the country. Many saw him as a future first round tight end just as many thought he would be an elite edge defender. Sanders has impressive functional athleticism and regularly showed enough speed to outrun defensive backs.  

Having multiple excellent defensive ends—Brian Burns, Yetur Gross-Matos, Josh Kaindoh, Jacob Lichenstein, and Jahafari Harvey—many were surprised when the Panthers selected Sanders with the 5th overall pick, especially after watching Korey Foreman and Jack Sawyer go off the board in the first 4 picks. Coach/GM stated after the draft that Sanders will start at outside LB. He will see playing time right away, after the team failed to resign Shaq Thompson and ended up trading away Raekwon McMillan this past offseason.

Sanders had quite the impressive preseason – having a sack and a forced fumble in each game and sometimes multiple sacks. If this trend continues, he will become a superstar in PML quickly.

Outlook: Sanders will be a centerpiece of the Panthers defense almost immediately. Expect him to be the team’s primary QB hunter opposite Brian Burns.

Season stat prediction: 65 solo tackles, 9.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 3 INTs