What is Shedeur Sanders’ NFL Draft stock? Colorado QB leads stunning upset of TCU

Shedeur Sanders, welcome to the 2024 NFL Draft conversation.

In his Colorado debut, Sanders — the son of Buffaloes head coach and NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders — threw for a school-record 510 yards (on 10.9 yards per completion) and four touchdowns in a stunning 45-42 upset of No. 17 TCU, last season’s College Football Playoff runner-up. Sanders’ totals could have been even more eye-popping, were it not for a couple of early drops by his receivers that cost him another 75-plus yards passing.

“Shedeur Sanders is one of the best quarterbacks I’ve ever seen wear that uniform,” Fox analyst and former Colorado QB Joel Klatt said as the final seconds ticked off the clock. “Or, this certainly was one of the best games I’ve ever seen out of that uniform — and I’ve seen almost all of ’em.”

Sanders played his first two college seasons at Jackson State, where he was also coached by his famous father. When Deion Sanders took the Colorado job this offseason in a headline-making move, the younger Sanders followed as a transfer.

Shedeur Sanders ranked as the No. 6 underclassman QB on Dane Brugler’s preseason positional rankings, behind five other quarterbacks who were top 30 overall on Brugler’s 2024 NFL Draft Big Board last month.

Top-ranked underclassmen QBs (preseason)

Player School Ht, Wt

1. Caleb Williams

6-1, 215

2. Drake Maye

6-4, 225

3. J.J. McCarthy

6-3, 209

4. Riley Leonard

6-4, 211

5. Quinn Ewers

6-2, 205

6. Shedeur Sanders

6-2, 215

Needless to say, Saturday’s performance will shift expectations for the remainder of this season, into the draft cycle.

Sanders’ scouting report

Sanders wasn’t an unknown before today — he led Jackson State to a 23-3 record the past two seasons as the starter and had done enough to be the No. 6 underclassman in my summer quarterback preview. But many wondered if he could have the same impact against the big boys in a major college conference.

Based on his Colorado debut, the answer to that question is more much clear. He completed better than 80 percent of his passes (38 for 47) in the season-opening win — and those drops held that number down a bit. To be fair, TCU’s defense might be one of the worst Colorado faces all season and the play calling by Colorado offensive coordinator Sean Lewis was outstanding, but Sanders, wide receiver/cornerback Travis Hunter and running back Dylan Edwards were the breakout stars in this game.

Sanders has an electric arm and shows an instinctive feel for how to use his athleticism to move the pocket. Above all, though, I was most impressed Saturday by his poise and downfield accuracy. He was unflappable under pressure and did a great job staying controlled while urgently working through his reads to find passing windows. And his deep-ball touch was on point for all four quarters. — Brugler

What comes next?

It’s still hard to say what type of immediate NFL prospect Sanders is as a true junior, as most of the evidence we have on him still comes from the FCS level.  However, as Dane mentioned, he also cooked people at Jackson State (3,752 yards, 40 touchdowns and just six picks last year; 70 TDs to 14 INT over his two seasons there). He’s a smart distributor, and he understood everything his OC Sean Lewis had planned for him against TCU.

He had a rollout throw against traffic over the middle late that was awesome, as was his poise throughout the massively hyped national broadcast. We do need to see more from him as a vertical passer, and it’s likely only going to get more difficult — no one really knew before Saturday what Colorado’s offense would look like. But Shedeur Sanders has everybody’s attention now, if he didn’t already. — Nick Baumgardner

Obviously, the body of work is what will matter the most come draft time, and there is a full season in front of us to figure out Sanders’ exact grade and NFL projection. But the QB3 spot (behind USC’s Caleb Williams and North Carolina’s Drake Maye) is wide open as we start the season. And Saturday’s game against TCU was Sanders’ formal application to be considered. — Brugler

Quick thoughts on Travis Hunter

Hunter is only a true sophomore and won’t be draft-eligible until 2025. But he was already on the NFL radar after his freshman season at Jackson State and didn’t disappoint in his Colorado debut. Hunter logged a staggering 129 combined snaps between cornerback and wide receiver Saturday, and he made several impact plays.

He would be a slam dunk first-round prospect next April if eligible. At which position? Both. — Brugler

Required reading

(Top photo: Matthew Pearce / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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