Also ran track as a California prep. Began his college career at Fresno State in 2010, where he played all 13 games (one start) and had 30 receptions for 462 yards (15.4-yard average) and three touchdowns. Added 32 kickoff returns for 738 yards (23.1). Started 8 of 13 games in '11, snagging 50-1,065-12 (21.3). Following '12 spring practice, transferred to Oklahoma because he did not like the way he was being used in new head coach Tim DeRuyter's offense. Once eligible, he started 8 of 9 games for the Sooners and produced 62-829-3 (13.4). Started all 13 games in '13, totaling 61-729-8 (12.0). Also returned 31 career punts for 465 yards (15.0), including three scores.
STRENGTHS Light on his feet with a fluid stride. Good balance and body control. Nifty, conscientious route runner. Has speed and twitch to separate vs. man coverage -- sinks his hips with ease and pops out of breaks. Quick, soft hands. Slippery after the catch. Eludes the first tackler and can turn a short throw into a long gain if he gets a step. Three punt-return TDs in 25 returns at OU -- eludes the first wave, runs to daylight and can take it the distance.
WEAKNESSES Marginal size. Cannot play outside -- is easily knocked off course and needs a free release. Lets throws into his body. Small catch radius. Lacks elite top-end vertical speed, especially for his size (averaged just 12.0 yards per catch as a senior). Outmuscled in a crowd. Limited run strength. Lets throws into his body. Weak blocker -- gets ragdolled outside. Durability could be a concern -- is not built to take a pounding.
DRAFT PROJECTION Rounds 5-6
BOTTOM LINE A lightweight, quicker-than-fast, competitive slot receiver and punt returner, Saunders will always have size limitations, but has the hands, suddenness, polish and moxie to be a useful piece for a creative offensive coordinator able to free him up. Return ability adds to value.
Has the explosive speed and agility to make up for his lack of size.
Straight-line speed is among the best in this year's draft class and makes him a legitimate deep threat and a threat to take it the distance every time he has the ball in his hands.
Gets up to full speed quickly which makes cornerbacks respect his ability to get open deep and limits their press coverage, especially when the defensive scheme doesn't provide help over the top.
Change-of-direction ability is bordering on elite and will give less athletic defensive backs issues in coverage and in the option field after the catch.
Size and speed make him extremely slippery when running through traffic.
Demonstrates good field awareness when working against zone coverage.
Does a great job tracking the ball over his shoulder and making adjustments downfield.
Has experience returning kicks and punts and will be a strong candidate to play a role as a return specialist in the NFL.
Remained durable throughout his career.
Extremely productive in two different offensive systems and while working with multiple different starting quarterbacks.
Vastly undersized, both in terms of height and build, which severely limits his upside.
Despite never suffering any serious injuries in college, his size definitely raises concerns about long-term durability in the NFL.
Not the type of receiver who can compete for jump balls and is easily pushed around in 50-50 situations.
Route can be sloppy at times, and he relied heavily on winning with pure speed in college.
Raw talent won't be enough for him to consistently break free at the next level, and he'll need to refine his technique to gain that extra step on defensive backs.
Needs to develop the subtle moves within the stem of the route to make up for the fact he won't consistently be able to simply run past defensive backs in the NFL.
A liability when relied upon to blockósimply too small to slow anyone down other than similarly sized nickel corners.
Very small hands, which contributes to his somewhat inconsistent ability to come down with the ball in traffic.
Struggles to quickly secure the ball, even when using proper technique and catching with his handsówill lead to continued struggles with contested catches at the next level.
Speed is definitely an asset, but he lacks an elite second gear to run away from defendersówas caught from behind more often than you'd expect.
Transferred from Fresno State to Oklahoma after head coach Pat Hill was fired.
First-team All-WAC and led conference in touchdown receptions in 2011; missed first four games of 2012 season at Oklahoma due to transfer rules.
Second-team All-Big 12 in 2013.
Ran track in high school.
Arrested for possession of marijuana in 2012; charges were later dropped, but it's still something teams will ask him about during interview process.
Saunders is an electric athlete, who definitely can play a niche role in an NFL offense. His lack of size may force him to primarily work out of the slot, where he can take short routes and make things happen after the catch.
He isn't the type of receiver who will come in and change the dynamics of a team's passing attack, but he could be a nice luxury pick in the middle rounds for a team looking to add an extra weapon to keep the defense on its toes.