Oklahoma wide receiver Jalen Saunders came to the NFL Combine with a chip on his shoulder because he felt he was being overlooked. On Sunday, he accomplished what he set out to do — impress scouts with his workout.
The 5-foot-9, 165-pound Saunders was 10th-fastest among receivers in Indy, running a 4.44 in the 40-yard dash. He followed that up with a solid performance during position drills. All of this could equal a rise in his draft stock.
Saunders had a productive senior season with the Sooners, hauling in 61 passes for 729 yards and eight touchdowns. The playmaking receiver put a hurting on Alabama in the Sugar Bowl by scoring two touchdowns in the Sooners’ 33-24 victory.
Saunders is a shifty slot receiver with ankle-breaking moves in the open field. He’s quick, fast and versatile with the ability to play all the receiver positions. He shows incredible toughness catching the ball in traffic despite his shortcomings.
Saunders is a polished receiver with exceptional route-running skills, good hands and body control. He has an advanced knowledge of the game and uses it to get open against bigger opponents during press coverage. As a youngster, he spent a lot of time working and watching film with his uncle Webster Slaughter, who was an All-Pro receiver for the Browns.
The Browns are expected to address the slot position and could find Slaughter’s nephew to be ripe for the picking.
Saunders’ lack of size may be a concern for some teams, but his ability to return kicks will add value to his stock. The receiver met with Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Tennessee, New York Jets, Oakland and Baltimore at the combine.
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