Since being drafted in the third round of the 2012 draft, Mohamed Sanu has been a key role player in a high powered Bengals offense. Other teams might ask - can he be a number two wide receiver in the NFL? And Cincinnati has to decide how much they want to pay their slot receiver.
In 2015, Sanu played in all 16 games, starting in four and recorded 33 receptions for 394 yards receiving in addition to 71 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Over the course of his four year career with the Bengals, Sanu has racked up 11 receiving touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns and two passing touchdowns. Sanu can do it all and the Bengals have utilized him well as a WR3, the questions that remain are, will another team push him into a WR2 role and how much will that team be willing to pay him?
Where he wins: Sanu is a smart route runner. As a former quarterback, you see it when he finds open windows against zone coverage and makes small adjustments to make it easier for the quarterback to find him. This fits your typical slot wide receiver profile and Sanu is just that, but he can also back up both outside receiver spots. This is ideal for your third receiver. He can start when needed and plays his role very well. Sanu possesses a large body that's well-built and it shows when he's making contested catches and running afterwards. He can make some spectacular grabs and has good body control afterward. Where Sanu really shines is in his versatility. He can run the ball from the backfield, from the wildcat and has a great arm to throw it. Sanu could even be your backup kicker if needed.
Concerns: Concerns with Sanu stem from his limitations as an athlete. He doesn't have great top speed and with below average ball skills, he doesn't often make a splash as a deep receiver. Sanu can be a bit lethargic in and out of his breaks and when facing press coverage. This costs him dearly against man coverage where he's often removed from the game. In 2014, Sanu led the league in dropped passes when he was playing much more of a starting role. As a run blocker, Sanu disappoints. With his large body, he should be much better in this area. It is worth noting that he improved in 2015 and had no drops, but, his role also diminished in the offense with Tyler Eifert and Marvin Jones back after missing the 2014 season due to injuries.
Bottom line: Sanu is an ideal slot receiver, but he can often be taken out of the game against good man coverage and his versatility as a receiver leaves you wanting more. Then again, his offensive versatility is fun and has created a spark for this offense many times. If the Bengals lose Marvin Jones, I could see them bringing Sanu back to start and they'd go to a more two-tight end offense. They'd also want to draft a wide receiver early to play outside in three wide receiver sets.