Tuesday, April 11, 2017

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Zach Cunningham

Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt
6-3, 234
Cunningham was a Division 5A State player of the year in Alabama in high school as a DE, but Alabama and Auburn let him get away, and Vanderbilt landed a star after he transitioned to LB in college.
Cunningham ended up being a three year star for the Commodore program, and left after his junior season to make some serious money as a pro.
He was named first team All-America as a junior in 2016.
As a freshman, he totaled 67 tackles, 6.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, two PBUs, one QB hurry, and one forced fumble.
As a sophomore, he racked up 103 tackles, 16.5 TFLs, 4.5 sacks, three PBUs, and four forced fumbles.
As a junior, he finished with 125 tackles, 16.5 TFLs, three PBUs, one QB hurry, and two forced fumbles.
The Good
Major production in all three years at Vanderbilt.
Loves to get in on the action, and can fly all over the field.
Has taken on the mantle of leadership on the field.
Very intelligent football player who breaks things down quickly and attacks.
Hits gaps like a pro, and is very disruptive to runners in the backfield.
Blockers have a tough time honing in on him.
Creates turnovers like crazy. Always raking at the football.
gets side to side on the field with ease.
Seriously large tackling radius.
As tough as they come, and had very little help.
Can cover backs and ends.
Doesn't allow much when it comes to yards after the catch.
The Bad
Lacks lower body bulk, and carries all of his weight high.
Has been known to ride the wave when blockers get on him.
Needs to keep his pads level at all times.
High tackler who allows runners to slip away from him resulting in several missed tackles.
Not much at getting to the QB, and is more of a run stuffer.
Final Overview
Despite the missed tackles issue, Cunningham is , by far, my favorite LB in this draft class. He is a smart, focused, and driven tackling machine who makes plays all over the field, and is super disruptive. Had he played at a better football school, he would be getting much more consideration as a top ten pick based on his production. Cunningham is a terminator like machine who can get to the football and make things happen, and his head will stay focused as well. His issues that he does have can mostly be coached out, so there should be few concerns there. Wind him up and let him go, and you have one of the better players in this draft.

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