Draft spotlight: Florida State LT Zebrie Sanders

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said Zebrie Sanders will be the best left tackle on the board with the Falcons pick 55th overall in the 2012 NFL draft. (Associated Press)

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said Zebrie Sanders will be the best left tackle on the board when the Falcons pick 55th overall in the 2012 NFL draft. (Associated Press)


POS: Left tackle

School: Florida State

HT: 6-6

WT: 320

Arm length: 35 inches

40-yard dash: 5.41 seconds

Hometown: Dayton, Ohio.

Key stats: He had 37 knockdown blocks as a junior. Made 50 career starts.

Here’s the next installment of the DRAFT SPOTLIGHT feature, which we’ll run periodically up to the NFL draft April 26-28 in New York.

With most of you all concerned about the left tackle position, I asked ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay to evaluate who might be available when the Falcons pick in the second round.

Rarely, will you find a NFL-ready left tackle in the second round, so it’s not reasonable for them to take one with the 55th overall pick.

“At that point, I just did this two round mock draft. There was still (Zebrie) Sanders from Florida State who is still on the board, Mitchell Schwartz from Cal, kind of that third tier of offensive tackle at that point,” McShay said.

If Mississippi’s Bobby Massie slips, he could be available.

“Bobby Massie would probably be the best available and maybe best case scenario coming out of Mississippi,” McShay said. “I don’t know that he’s going to fall all the way there, but if he does it’s a possibility.

“Zebrie Sanders from Florida State, there is a good chance he’ll be there. He kind of fits what they want to do. He fits that Florida State zone blocking scheme, and I think he has the athleticism to play left tackle, but I’m not necessarily convinced of it. It’s always hard to plug your left tackle, and it’s not going to be easy to do.”

Here’s a Q&A with Sanders:

Q: Where do you see yourself fitting in?

A: I’m just happy enough to make one team happy with me . . . right, left, I feel more natural at left but wherever they want me to play is fine.

Q: How was your Senior Bowl experience?

A: It was good playing against the top talent in the country, going up against Quinton Coples and Melvin Ingram, it helped me a lot.

Q: What are you strengths technique wise?

A: I probably need to work on my hand placement, being more technically sound, and just keeping my feet low and keep moving, finishing a little bit.

Q: How’d you end up at FSU?

A: I grew up in Dayton, Ohio. Coach (Rick) Trickett and the warm weather down there. I had to get away a little bit, the snow was getting a little too crazy.

Q: You played Violin as a kid?A: Actually Viola.

The veterans could have Sanders perform on his Viola if selected by the Falcons.

The veterans could have Sanders perform on his Viola if selected by the Falcons.

Q: When was the last time you played?

A: When I graduated (from) high school. I’m done with that now. It was a good childhood memory. My mom made me do it. It was cool though.

Q: Why viola, not violin?

A: It’s bigger for a bigger person.

Q: What chair did you get to in the orchestra?

A: Second chair, I was pretty good.

Q: What sets you apart from the other offensive tackles?

A: I think just my will to get better. I’m always picking up little pointers on my opponents. . . I’m always trying to fine-tune things, and I think that will help me out.

Q: Is there a lineman that you pattern your game after?

A: Definitely Jason peters, and then Tra Thomas, of course an alumni. He went to the Philadelphia Eagles. That’s my favorite team.

Here are some of the other DRAFT SPOTLIGHTS:

Draft spotlight: Montana CB Trumaine Johnson

Draft spotlight: Virginia Tech RB David Wilson

Draft spotlight: Clemson DE Andre Branch

Draft spotlight: Marshall DE Vinny Curry

ProFootballTalk.com’s visit tracker

Players that the Atlanta Falcons reportedly held a workout with, visited the team facility or both.

Alabama defensive tackle Josh Chapman.

Vanderbilt defensive end Tim Fugger.

Louisiana-Lafayette tight end Ladarius Green.

Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward.

South Carolina defensive end Melvin Ingram.

Montana defensive back Trumaine Johnson. Click here for STORY.

Cincinnati tight end Adrien Robinson.

California offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz.

Virginia Tech running back David Wilson.

Illinois safety Tavon Wilson.

Falcons Draft Selections

The Falcons traded away their first and fourth round picks of the 2012 draft as part of the Julio Jones trade with the Cleveland Browns.

2nd Round (No. 55 overall)

3rd Round (No. 84 overall)

5th Round (No. 157 overall)

6th Round (No. 192 overall)

7th Round (No. 229 overall)

7th Round (Compensatory Selection, No. 249 overall)

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

Get instant updates on Twitter at AJCFalcons and you can join the Facebook Fan page at AJC Falcons.

51 comments Add your comment


April 3rd, 2012
6:07 am

FSU usually has some good players on their team, Question is, will he be playing this year? will he be around in the 3rd round, does he like playing football or is he playing for the money? anyone that plays the viola has got to have character.


April 3rd, 2012
6:51 am

Zebrie missed some games due to injury. Does anyone know to what extent he has been hurt and was it very serious? Thanks.
FSU was a little dissapointed in their line play last season. Their running game and sack total was not steller!

Blue Fender

April 3rd, 2012
7:18 am

If he’s injury prone, then we’ll get him.

steven a smith

April 3rd, 2012
7:29 am

Filling a need in this drat for them is not necessarily pragmatic. The most wise choices would be Best Available Player moving forward in rounds 2 and 3.


April 3rd, 2012
7:41 am

Why don’t you just sign Marcus McNeil? Duh!

Then you can use that pick for a valuable skill position. Doug Martin would be great or possibly one of the TEs may be left.

Think smart!

I usually just read but....

April 3rd, 2012
8:08 am

1st Round, 3rd Overall, Matt Ryan of Boston College.
1st Round, 21st Overall, Sam Baker of USC.
1st Round, 24th Overall, Peria Jerry of Ole Miss
1st Round, 19th Overall, Sean Weatherspoon of Missouri
1st Round, 6th Overall, Julio Jones of Alabama
The point? I really don’t think it will hurt the team to not have a #1 pick this year. Now, if you can get TD picking in, say the first 5-6 picks he does pretty good. But so could I.

Fanatic Falcon Fan (F3)

April 3rd, 2012
8:14 am

Great link to that visit tracker, thanks.

DOL, I see that the panthers talked to George Iloka, along with several other teams. As a 6′4″ S/CB hybred, he would seem to be a great NCB as well as depth in several positions. Any interest by the Falcons?

Hardy Falcon

April 3rd, 2012
8:24 am

DOL does not know how to pick talent. He must of been the guy to tell the Falcons to draft Peria over Clay Matthews. Stick to reporting not picking draft picks


April 3rd, 2012
9:06 am

Hello D. Orlando, Could you compare the 1980 Atlanta Falcon team to the one we have had over the last 2 or 3 years? Your insight is very helpful. Thank You , Ross


April 3rd, 2012
9:27 am

None of the most trusted analysts(at least that I’ve read so far) view Z Sanders as an OLT in the pros. Datko was FSUs LT until injury forced them to move ZS to the left side last year. If we’re moving exclusively to a ZBS, then some of his weaknesses(functional strength, reading & reacting) could be mitigated somewhat–but I still don’t believe he could beat out Svitek, much less a healthy Baker. At #55, I want a guy who will have an impact in year one… while not our greatest need, if D Martin is still around when we pick in the 2nd, he would be one of the BPsA…..


April 3rd, 2012
9:31 am

No one could have predicted Jerry´s injury. However, Baker was picked because of his father ran Georgia Force. Blank made that happen. lol

D. Orlando Ledbetter

April 3rd, 2012
9:46 am

waynester – I think you are missing the point. The best you can get at 55 is a developmental left tackle. This is who McShay tossed out to me because I asked specifically about the spot and position. (I knew that you can’t find a starting/impact left tackle at 55, but just wanted to see what would be there. They already have a developmental left tackle in Andrew Jackson.)

D. Orlando Ledbetter

April 3rd, 2012
9:47 am

Ross – Send me a reminder after the draft when things slow down in May and I could do that assignment for you.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

April 3rd, 2012
9:48 am

Hardy Falcon– This is my pick. It’s Todd McShay’s of ESPN. I will bless you with my picks later.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

April 3rd, 2012
9:50 am

Fanatic Falcon Fan (F3) — Haven’t heard anything on him yet. Seems intriguing.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

April 3rd, 2012
9:52 am

Smartguy — Will do my weekly check-in with the McNeil camp. It will be interesting to see how his Philadelphia visit went.


April 3rd, 2012
10:06 am


I see that we brought in Melvin Ingram, since we all know that he’s suppose to be gone well before we draft, should we take it that’s Been the most intriguing prospect for the birds at DE & maybe even that if he slips some we could potentially be willing to package a player or our 3rd rounder with our 2cnd to go up & get him, if he slips to a place where that could make more sense & that compensation would be seen as adequate?


April 3rd, 2012
10:19 am

Could you compare the 1980 Atlanta Falcon team to the one we have had over the last 2 or 3 years?

QB Bartkowksi > Ryan
RB Andrews And Cain > Turner and Mughalli (sp?)
WR Francis, A Jinkins, A Jackson current Falcons
DL Yates, Marrow, Fields Current, 1980 best LB Falcons ever had
DB Lawrence, Pridemore J Miller
K Mazzetti > current


April 3rd, 2012
10:20 am

I do think they will go with best available at this point. I just don’t think they would go tackle that late because there’s no point really when guys that can play like Bell and or Mcneil are available and they are already better than thier starters even if Mcneil isn’t totally healthy why bring in another project when the starters are projects?

The Giants model of picking up pass rushers early has certainly looked profitable, but I don’t know. They really are looking for playmakers so I feel like they could go a number of ways, but after bringing in a guard and bringing back McClure unless some great OL prospect falls I think they are probably rolling with what they’ve got on the OL early. I still don’t believe much in Hawley either but it is what it is.

They need to get a potential difference maker at 55, I just don’t believe Sanders is that kind of player. I think they go defense on the line or possibly in the secondary.

It all depends on who is there really.


April 3rd, 2012
10:23 am

QB Bartkowksi > Ryan
RB Andrews And Cain > Turner and Mughalli (sp?)
WR Francis, A Jinkins, A Jackson < Jones, White Douglas
DL Yates, Marrow, Fields J Miller
K Mazzetti > current

D. Orlando Ledbetter

April 3rd, 2012
10:51 am

Nique — I think that’s a due diligence visit. One of the DEs will slip, but it’s not going to be him. I haven’t seen him out of the top 20. TD has been active in every draft, so I don’t rule out anything.

Chub Rock

April 3rd, 2012
11:36 am

DOL-I find it strange that Andrew Jackson while not being able to even make the 53 man roster last season and being labeled as a guard on the team website is somehow considered the developmental LT for the Atlanta Falcons. If Zebrie Sanders is not ready in a year how many years will need to be invested in a 7th RD pick that has played guard in college? At best Andrew Jackson is a developmental player who could one day fill a backup role as a guard/tackle. He is not being groomed to take the LT spot IMO. The Falcons would be better off drafting a LT at 55 and letting him sit for 1 yr behind Svitek with the intention of taking over the job in 2013 when Baker hits the road. Next season both Svitek and Baker are free agents and I don’t care what Mike Smith says he ain’t gonna resign Baker. The Falcons at some point are going to have to start drafting for the future in some spots.

[...] to Original Content From Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog): read more Related Articles Share About Author [...]


April 3rd, 2012
1:23 pm

BigTimeTech — can you really put former bartender, Tim Mazetti, over Matt Bryant, who is one of the best kickers in the game? Granted, Tim kicked outdoors in Atlanta Fulton County and had a few great games (I still remember his 5-kick performance on Monday Night Football) but Bryant is very reliable and strong. Just my 2 cents.

Open Minded

April 3rd, 2012
1:51 pm

BYU left Offensive tackle Matt Reynolds started every game for 4 years… is 6′ 5″ 305 LBS ran the 40 in 5.12 and 5.20 at the combine and should easily be available in the 5 th round… that would be a real developmental pick and not waste such a high selection.


April 3rd, 2012
2:02 pm

If Sanders is there, then we’d better get him. Nothing wrong with getting a developmental LT to learn the system, or better yet a future one to back up Svitek and to finally replace Baker (whenever that happens…)

A fish story

April 3rd, 2012
2:16 pm

Enter your comments here


April 3rd, 2012
3:06 pm

HBCU Classic Sports

In the legacies of Rayfield Wright, Larry Little, Willie Davis:

Sanford Banks 6’5, 300 OL Grambling
2x All-SWAC, 2011 SWAC Champ

Kendall Noble 6’4, 268 OG Norfolk St
2x All-MEAC, 2011 MEAC Champ, FCS Playoff Qualifier

Natiel Curry 6’4, 280 OL Bethune
3x All-MEAC, 2010 MEAC Champ

Corey Gwinner 6’6, 310 OL Howard

Bennie Peoples 6’5, 290 OL Grambling
2x All-SWAC, 2011 SWAC Champ

Steve Robinson 6’4, 230 OL FAMU
2011 All-MEAC, 2010 MEAC Champ

Juavahr Nathan 6’2, 250 OL SC State
All-MEAC, 2009/2010 MEAC Champ

Jessie Mitchell 6’3, 300 OL KYSU


Chub Rock

April 3rd, 2012
3:17 pm

We’ve got Mike Johnson, Andrew Jackson, Garrett Reynolds and not to mention whoever is on the practice squad at the O-line positions. Just how may long term developmental projects can one team benefit from. If Sanders has the skill set to compete this year and take over next season you have to go get the guy. No more 5th RD hopefuls. Any player is a potential waste of a pick, there are no sure things in the NFL draft…not even Andrew Luck.

Phalcon Phil

April 3rd, 2012
3:31 pm

developmental is another way of saying “good luck ever being considered a good player”


April 3rd, 2012
3:41 pm



April 3rd, 2012
3:41 pm


April 3rd, 2012
3:41 pm



April 3rd, 2012
4:03 pm

I could see DEs A. Branch, V. Curry, or DB C. Heyward being our pick, with an outside shot of B. Boykin out of UGA.
Hopefully, TE L. Green is there in the 3rd.
With everyone expecting coaching to make up for a relatively slow FA for the Falcons, I don’t see why they wouldn’t extend that to the developmental OLs we already have. That is why I think we go DB or DE with ou r2nd round pick.

1982 Falcons Fan

April 3rd, 2012
4:03 pm

safety help decoud is good around the goal line but suspect in the open field i really like casey heyward 13 ints in 2 yrs and how many we had last year we need playmakers on defense got enough on offense


April 3rd, 2012
4:54 pm

HBCU Classic Sports

2012 Draft Preview:
WR, Nick Andrews, Alabama St



April 3rd, 2012
5:23 pm

Saints just signed LB David Hawthrone to a 5 year deal. Can someone explain to me where all this money they have is coming from.


April 3rd, 2012
5:40 pm

The Saints have been able to restructure other players deals and or not pay their QB and Lofton’s cap number is very very small this year, I imagine the same is true for Hawthorne.

Keep in mind they have no draft picks at the top of the draft so they are filling holes with established players. That, and they seem to be more able to evaluate and decide what they need to win a heck of a lot better than this group.

If the Falcons FO is anything right now, it’s ridiculously slow to evaluate.


April 3rd, 2012
5:41 pm

Geez the Saints are going to have a nice LB crew next year.

Sure would be nice if our FO would do something….. anything


April 3rd, 2012
5:59 pm

Sanders is not the answer. Just a good college player on a below avg college O-Line. If FSU had a good line last season, I believe they would have only lost 1 game. (Oklahoma)

HardTruth Soldier

April 3rd, 2012
6:08 pm

I Sit and read this article, and some comments and know why atlanta is a second tier Pro program. Arthur Blank needs to take off the mittens and require some accountability for the massage underacheiving that’s going on, and I don’t mean on the field, but in the front office. QUESTION: Why were we not actively looking right away for a LT when Baker got hurt last year. Why were we not actively searching immediately following the End of the season for a DE that could fit into our salary cap. This team has missed on so many defensive players(LB being the exception) and in case you FANS haven’t noticed there one star player is SEC material which we seem to pass over consistantly. this will continue being a second tier team until we can realize that you’ve gotta get some talent( and i mean alot) from the Big conferences, and the SEC is the biggest.

Row 3

April 3rd, 2012
6:19 pm

Hawthorne, and Loftin will be the only two not suspended.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

April 3rd, 2012
7:09 pm

hbcuclassics – What do you have had Corey Hart, Alabama A&M. Kiper was talking about him.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

April 3rd, 2012
7:10 pm

Phalcon Phil – Clabo was developmental and he went to the Pro Bowl after the 2010 season.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

April 3rd, 2012
7:16 pm

Chubb Rock — BTW, loved your videos back in the day!!!! (Especially those guys in the purple and gold: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uy3r_RFhvsM) Coach Smith liked what he saw of Jackson early. He had to be crossed train and that’s what they were doing with him last year. When you go into a game with seven linemen, the backups must ready to play guard or tackle in case of injury. I don’t know if he can win the LT spot, but it sure doesn’t hurt to have your old college coach as your position coach.

Chub Rock

April 3rd, 2012
8:56 pm

Friendship is essential to the soul.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

April 3rd, 2012
11:26 pm

Chub Rock — For sure!

[...] Draft spotlight: Florida State LT Zebrie Sanders [...]

[...] Draft spotlight: Florida State LT Zebrie Sanders [...]


April 5th, 2012
12:57 am