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Sainristil Could Thrive in the Nickel Role | Commanders NFL Draft

Updated: Jan 16


Written By Adam Aniba


This years draft class might not feature an unquestioned can't miss shut down corner, but Day 2-3 should feature a few intriguing prospects that could make their mark early on.


Michigan cornerback Mike Sainristil had a breakout season in 2023 and had one of the biggest plays of the game during the January '24 National Championship.


Mike Sainristil

5'10" 192 lbs | CB | MICH

Draft Proj 3rd Rd

Career Stats (62 games)-108 TAK (70 solo), 10.5 TFLs, 3 SACKS, 7 INTs, 13 PD & 2 FF

'23 Stats (15 games)- 44 TAK (26 solo), 4.0 TFLs, 1 SACK, 6 INTs, 6 PD & 2 FF

Background

Sainristil grew up in Everett, MA playing receiver and defensive back for Everett High Scholl. As a junior he recorded 762 receiving yards 12 touchdowns as a receiver and added 6 interceptions on the defensive side of ball.


The Everett HS prospect was named a 4-star recruit by ESPN and elected to join the Michigan football team, after being in high demand during the recruiting process.


In 2019 as a freshman, Sainristil was active in 13 games with only 1 start and recorded 8 receptions for 145 yards and 1 score as a receiver. He also recorded 1 tackle on special teams.


Fast forward to the 2021 season in which Sainristil appeared in 14 games and had his best season while at Michigan recording 22 receptions for 312 yards and 2 touchdowns. In addition he registered 5 tackles on special teams.

In 2022 Sainristil would finally get his chance to play on the defensive side of the ball. Sainristil made the permanent switch from receiver to cornerback and thrived on the Wolverines defense.


Per Wolverines HC Jim Harbuagh

"I know he's gonna stick on defense because he just went through spring practice where he not only stuck, but he really, really stood out."

Sainristil played in all 13 games in '22 (623 snaps. On the season, he recorded 43 tackles, 6 pass breakups, 8 QB pressures and 2 sacks with a QB rating of 91.4 when targeted. He saw time at outside corner, nickleback and even safety.


Although Sainristil showed a lot of promise in his first full season at cornerback in '22, 2023 would be a breakout season for the former 4-star recruit.


The Wolverines cornerback was active in all 13 games last season (551 snaps) and was named a team captain. On the season he recorded 19 tackles, 10 QB pressures, 2 sacks, 6 pass breakups, 6 interceptions and a QB rating of 66.6 when targeted.

Awards & Accolades

2023 CBS Sports All-American 2nd Team


• 2023 All-Big Ten selection 1st Team


• 2023 Reese's Senior Bowl Mid-season All-American


•2023 Griffin-Grange MVP (forcing 2 fumbles, breaking up a pass and delivering a sack vs Iowa in the Big Ten Championship (12/2/23)



PROS

  • Quick twitch athlete who displays the ability to effortlessly flip his hips and mirror fast receivers

  • Although on the small side doesn't shy away from contact and held his own when facing bigger/stronger pass catchers

  • Impressive timing and route recognition, often jumping routes making highlight reel pass-breakups/interceptions

  • Thrives in off coverage, specifically when asked to play zone where he can see the filed and break on the ball

  • Displays soft hands


CONS

  • Requires tackling refinement with too many drag downs on his tape

  • Can be a liability if asked to exclusively play press man

  • Solid in coverage with the ability to play on the outside, but seems to be limited to the slot on the next level

  • Backpedal can be high/choppy at times and will need refinement in this area on the next level

  • Only two full seasons with extended time at cornerback


Outlook

Although Sainristil had a breakout '23 season with a career high 6 interceptions, his limited production on defense prior to 2022 will lead some to question if he's a one hit wonder or a prospect just starting to hit his stride.


As it stands the Wolverines corner is firmly positioned with a 3rd round grade. On the next level he'll be limited to covering the slot, despite seeing time on the outside as well.


A great week at the Senior Bowl and productive NFL Combine could lead to a a draft day rise for Sainristil.


*GAMES WATCHED*

9/9/23 vs UNLV, 9/23 vs Rutgers, 10/21 vs Mich St., 11/18 vs Maryland, 12/2 vs Iowa & 1/8/24 vs Wash Univ. (CFB National Championship)


**CLICK CARD BELOW FOR MORE SCOUTING REPORTS**



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