Birds Under 24 Analysis: Miles Sanders

Miles Sanders was taken in the 2nd round by the Philadelphia Eagles out of Penn State. He will be joining a very clustered backfield including Darren Sproles, Jordan Howard, Corey Clement, and Josh Adams. What should Eagles fans be expecting out of the rookie? 

Penn State Overview

Miles Sanders rushed for over 1,200 yards this past year after finally coming out of Penn State legend Saquon Barkley’s shadow. The Nittany Lions finished with a 9-4 record and sat at 17th in the nation. Sanders was the main piece of the offense alongside quarterback Trace McSorley, now of the Baltimore Ravens. Miles also had 9 touchdowns rushing the ball. He only had a measly 140 yards receiving the ball and his pass-catching is a main piece of what he needs to work on in 2019/2020.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Miles is very agile and elusive. While he doesn’t have the best speed or strength, his calling card is his ability to evade defenders and work for yards. In between the tackles, he’s very able to break tackles to gain a couple extra yards, and this tenacity is what he has become known for. His speed and strength aren’t bad, just not his strong suit. This ability to get a few yards and work every play allows the ability every once in a while to take one all the way to the end zone and shows his determination to never stop. 

His major weaknesses are his ability to block in the backfield and his ball security. He easily lets defenders by in the film that I saw, and it’s something he needs to work on to better his game. With this competitive of a backfield in 2019, not being able to protect Carson Wentz will not bode well for his chances to consistently see game action. Sanders also fumbled five times in 2018, and his strength holding onto the ball needs to be something worked on during camp. 

2019 Role

Miles isn’t expected to have much weight on his shoulders this season. The Eagles, as stated before, have a loaded backfield with no true workhorse, so it will be a running back by committee team. I’d expect Jordan Howard, if anyone, to get the most carries, but the others won’t be far behind. I’d expect Sanders to be third in the rotation depending on how much Darren Sproles does and is able to do. Unless Miles has a major breakout year, it will likely be Howard and Corey Clement to be the two backs ahead of him. 

2019 Expectations and Predictions

I’d expect a few big plays but not much more from the Penn State running back. He has a chance to be a contributor on special teams as well, possibly. In the future his role will greatly grow, but for right now there are too many running backs in Philadelphia for him to shine all on his own. I’d expect maybe 400 yards rushing with 5 touchdowns on the season. He’s very young and has a lot of potential, but for a contending team like the Eagles, unless he really steps up and surprises, I wouldn’t expect him to take over in 2019.