Cincinnati looks to stake its claim as a legitimate contender in Bloomington on Saturday, and multiple 2022 NFL Draft prospects should make a big impact.
#8 Cincinnati at Indiana 12PM ET ESPN
Cincinnati went 9-1 last year, losing to Georgia in the Peach Bowl on a 53-yard field goal with three seconds remaining. The American Athletic Conference has long wanted to be taken seriously. Central Florida went undefeated in 2017, won the conference championship game, and as a consolation prize was awarded a date with Auburn in the Peach Bowl that they eventually won.
If Cincinnati wins every single game they play this season, they’ll have a legitimate shot to make the College Football Playoff. The reason being that, for them to go undefeated, they’d have to beat both Indiana and Notre Dame on the road. It’s entirely possible that we could head into December with Cincinnati sitting at 12-0, an American Athletic Conference Championship Game away from finishing undefeated. They have the talent to do it, and we’ll look at one Bearcats prospect and one from Indiana ahead of this sneaky big game on Saturday.
Cincinnati DE Myjai Sanders
College Football News and Athlon Sports both named Myjai (pronounced My-Jay) Sanders to their preseason all-conference teams for the American Athletic Conference. After the 2020 that Sanders had, it’s easy to see why. The big edge rusher had 7 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss last season in only 10 games. He even added 5 passes defended for good measure.
Sanders has some of the traits to be an elite pass rusher at the next level. He’s shown agility and explosiveness, especially in his first step, when rushing the quarterback. He’s also got a decent array of pass rushing moves, including a bull rush, a chuck move (where he engages the lineman with his hands then chucks him to the side), and a speed rush. Myjai Sanders has shown that he can break out the right moves at the right time, as well as combine more than one move in a pass rush sequence.
But what makes Sanders a really tantalizing prospect for the 2022 NFL Draft is his length. He has long arms and long legs. His long legs mean that he can get to the quarterback in fewer steps than someone who’s shorter or whose legs aren’t as long. His long arms not only give him the ability to wrap up ballcarriers but make it easy for him to bat down passes at the line of scrimmage if he can’t get home on the rush.
For the same reason a boxer’s reach advantage matters, having long arms benefits Myjai Sanders. He can get his hands on linemen before they can get their hands on him, giving the upper hand on a given play.
On top of all that, he might still be getting better. Myjai Sanders has increased his yearly output of sacks, tackles for loss, and passes defended each year he’s been at Cincinnati. He needs to continue getting better if he wants to hear his name called on day one of the 2022 NFL Draft. If Sanders improves his consistency, lower body strength, and can regularly play with a lower center of gravity he should be able to improve his stock for the 2022 NFL Draft.