Path To the Draft: Robert Sands

Robert Sands is not your typical safety. At every bit of 6'5" he's one of the tallest men on the field at any position. His stature allows him to peer into an offensive backfield and with his unique blend of size and speed, maintain a wide patrol radius. Will those skills be enough to warrant an NFL Draft call tonight?

Sands is also a hard hitter with a ballistic radar for any player toting the pigskin. He's widely considered one of the best safeties in the 2011 NFL Draft and has certainly been one of the best safeties to suit up in the Gold and Blue.

As the second and third rounds of the draft resume this evening, there is a high likelihood that Sands could be drafted in either round. Even he isn't sure where he might end up -- or at least, he's not hinting at it.

"I just want to enjoy the experience," Sands said of his presence in the draft. "It's a once in a lifetime event. I want to keep everything confidential right now. I've had a private workout with the Miami Dolphins and I've had a number of teams contact me about my status, but that's about all I can say."

Sands currently ranks as the number three safety on draft analyst Mel Kiper's big board. Now that teams have scraped and scrapped around to secure their biggest needs in the first round of the draft, the subsequent rounds are still loaded with talent, albeit at positions teams felt they could wait to attain. especially in a year in which the strength of the draft is in the second-to-mid-round prospects. While there is a lot of uncertainty with many of these players, there is a great enough amount of talent for them to succeed given the right situation.

A quick look at the positions drafted in the first round shows a run on a handful of spots, and also points to a good chance for Sands to be selected today. Four quarterbacks, 12 defensive linemen (seven ends, five tackles) and eight offensive linemen constituted the majority of the first round, while only three cornerbacks and no safeties were selected. That leaves plenty of players available in the secondary for needy teams to browse over.

Sands is one of the top remaining men in the secondary, but he does have his issues that many scouts and pundits have pointed out. For instance, his coverage skills, pivoting and directional shifting have been knocked by some observers, but for what Sands was asked to do as a front-line safety for the Mountaineers, a team would be getting a bargain expecting the same.

"I feel good about it," Sands said of his potential draft status. "I'm excited to see how my life's gonna change again. I've done the best that I could preparing for this. I gave 110% and hopefully my work will speak for itself."

Sands plans on gathering with family and friends for the event, and hopes to hear his name called at the podium on Friday.

"I think we're just going to try and relax, have a barbeque, maybe play some cards and dominoes. I just want to kick back and enjoy it."

Of the 32 teams around the league, many have pressing needs in the secondary that they have thus far neglected. With free agency and player trading still in limbo (although expected to resume soon) , Sands' stock may be higher than he realizes. He hopes that is the case and perhaps his name will indeed be off the board before the day ends.

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