*4-star recruit whose father played at Oregon from 1980-1982
*Enters 2021 with 21 career starts
*Badgers’ leading tackler in each of the previous two seasons (2019 and 2020)
Scheme tendencies: 3-4 base defense, gap control front, blitz heavy, complex coverage combinations. High volume of gap exchanges
2021 projected role: Starting inside LB
Pros: Impressive physicality and finishing power as a tackler. He has flashed as a force defender attacking the line of scrimmage. Sanborn offers impressive football IQ, as well, showing situational awareness to attack the football as a tackler or to try to hold up the ball carrier to make him available for an attempt to strip the ball. Effective as a tackler, Sanborn does well to come to balance and square up ball carriers in the alley. He also offers an effective tackling radius and has consistency away from his frame to finish plays. Sanborn offers sufficient lateral mobility and range and, for some defenses, could fill the MIKE role at the NFL level from an athletic perspective. There is a good effectiveness to his punch, stun, and block deconstruction from interior OL climbing to influence his scrape. Sanborn is even consistent in making tackles while being leaned on.
Cons: There's a bit of tightness to his hips and he's not the most fluid in his coverage drops—not certain how well he'll hold up in man-to-man coverage against NFL TEs that implement a lot of pressure looks and isolate their backers in coverage. Sanborn isn’t going to pop or shine in hook/curl coverage drops either—there’s going to be a debate about his ability to play all three downs and he’ll need strong athletic testing to help buy-in. Sanborn doesn't have the most sudden transitions or explosive first step, either. He’s more twitched gearing into contact as compared to physically exploding in short spaces to attack small creases and working toward the ball and rapidly closing down distances. Most concerning was a bit of a regression versus spread teams in 2020 (Indiana) versus a strong showing in the 2019 Big Ten Championship (Ohio State), so his ability to play in space is a work in progress.