Zack Sanchez, CB
School: Oklahoma | Conference: BIG 12
College Experience: Junior | Age: 21
Height / Weight: 5-11 / 185 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 2nd or 3rd Round
NFL Comparison: Jerraud Powers
Zack Sanchez hails from Ft. Worth, Texas and played both cornerback and wide receiver in high school. His background as a receiver has translated well in college. Sanchez is among the best in this draft class when it comes to ball skills having picked off and defended a very respectable number of passes while at Oklahoma. What may be most impressive about Sanchez is the skills that he uses to disrupt the catch or make an interception. Sanchez is a competitor and has a great ability (like a wide receiver) to remain patient and poised while the ball is in the air and contort and adjust his body to get into position to defend the pass. He's also a tough and aggressive player willing to fly downfield in run support and make a tackle.
A major knock on Sanchez will be his size. At sub 6 feet he is considered a shorter prospect to teams looking to add size to their CB core. Additionally while I have Sanchez listed at 185 it's likely he gained that weight with the purpose of trying to show scouts he could add size. I'm certain he played during the season as low as 175 lbs. Sanchez's aggressiveness served him well at times but like all ballhawk type players he can he burned badly by falling for more complex routes especially if the receiver he's defending sells it well. Because of his size and frame Sanchez is a prime candidate to be moved into the Nickel role for a team.
- Tough and competitive. Does not back down from bigger, faster, more talented competition. Plays with obvious confidence.
- Great ball skills snatching the ball out of the air from receivers while showing the ability to track the ball well in the air and highpoint.
- Ability to find the ball in the air and move stride for stride with a receiver. Can lock onto a QBs eyes and catch up to the ball.
- Has an impressive amount of awareness when playing zone or man coverage for where the receiver, ball, and boundary line is.
- Skinny matchstick body type.
- Can bite hard on play fakes or on plays where he's looking to jump routes and the receiver goes in a different direction than anticipated.
- Going to need to improve overall technique in the pro's but especially related to tackling. I see him having a hard time bringing down a big receiver or tight end.
Let's see his work:
Zack Sanchez with his 2nd pick of the game. https://t.co/CM2dv9PYMV— Ricky (@cubsbeisbol) November 22, 2015
Zack Sanchez w/ the 4.47 that'll help the draft stock— Codey Sanchez (@CodeySanchez85) March 9, 2016
Little draft nugget: 2 #Eagles scouts, incl Trey Brown, the team's top college guy, were @ Oklahoma Pro Day where LB Zack Sanchez shined.— Geoff Mosher (@GeoffMosherNFL) March 11, 2016
Zack Sanchez cover 2 technique is #good— Paulo Figari (@Paulo_FigariNFL) February 14, 2016
Zack Sanchez may not be a pro level cover CB. But that dude will play on Sunday's because of his hands. 7th in in the last 9 games. #sooners— Kyle Hoelting (@Kyle_Hoelting91) October 11, 2014
As a pure cover corner Zack Sanchez has a natural feel for the ball that few can match anywhere in the country.— Josh McCuistion (@JLMcCuistion) September 14, 2014
Tony Romo attempted to to visit the OU campus today, but his ride was intercepted by Zack Sanchez.— Daniel Harrison (@DanHarrison1985) April 17, 2014
How He Would Fit on the Redskins
I'm a big fan of Sanchez's and I see him fitting with the Redskins as a nickel corner. While he doesn't have the desired height and weight your want for a prototypical cornerback Sanchez is smart, fast, tough, and extremely competitive. Sanchez would be one of the faster players on the Redskin defense if he was drafted and he's shown the ability to stick with receivers vertically and over the middle. The 2nd round or even 3rd might be too rich for some fans to select Sanchez but he is arguably the best Nickel prospect in this draft class.
While you could make an argument for waiting to pick up someone like Harlan Miller, Cyrus Jones, or D.J. White to play Nickel (and I wouldn't be opposed to those options) you could also make an argument that Sanchez is the best athlete of all those guys (and maybe one with the best instincts for the position) and could possibly come in and contribute right away if his takeaway production translates to the NFL.
There is a lot to like about Sanchez and he is likely to go higher than most would be comfortable with but he is a baller and I expect him to start at the Nickel position for the team that drafts him.