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  • Welcome Zach Cunningham, LB




    Zach Cunningham
    LB


    VANDERBILT SEC
    • 6'3"HEIGHT
    • 34 3/8"ARM LENGTH
    • 234LBS.WEIGHT
    • 9 1/4"HANDS
    OVERVIEW
    Alabama may have overlooked Cunningham in the recruiting process due to his lean frame (he had 194 tackles, 41 for loss, 12 sacks as the state's 5A Lineman of the Year in 2012), but NFL scouts won't. He started the final five games of the year for the Commodores as a redshirt freshman (67 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 1.5), and then starting the final nine in 2015, eventually leading the team in tackles for loss (16.5) and forced fumbles (four) in a first-team All-SEC effort. Cunningham led Vandy with 125 tackles in another first-team all-conference season, with 16.5 tackles for loss. He also garnered first-team Associated Press All-American honors as a junior, proving his explosion on the national college football scene.

    STRENGTHS

    Play-making machine. Plays on a downhill tilt and is always looking to draw first blood. Fast to see it, process and respond. Creates tackles for losses by shooting gaps at appropriate angles. Has a good feel for blockers and uses varied speeds and subtle upper body turns to avoid blockers on second level. Quick in his lateral scrape and races ahead of blockers. Keeps play-side shoulder uncovered when flowing to the ball. Football magnet with outstanding tackle production and ability to create and recover turnovers. Rangy long strider with instincts and play speed to carry him from sideline to sideline in search of the ball. Has extended tackle radius. Durable and reliable. Has the athleticism and awareness to handle man coverage responsibilities against running backs and tight ends. Quick to trigger on throws from zone and limit yards after catch.

    WEAKNESSES

    Angular build with high waist and skinny legs. Lack of power in his lower body creates issues with contact balance for him. Plays behind his shoulder rather than behind his hands in take-on situations. Can get entangled against size and slow to disengage. Doesn't have play strength to fight past angle blocks once they land. Will need to work to keep shoulders squared in his attack. Leveraging his gap and standing his ground could be a challenge. Not a banger or a bend-and-strike finisher. Tends to attack ball carriers up high rather than down low and will slide off of too many would-be tackles.

    DRAFT PROJECTION

    Round 2

    SOURCES TELL US

    "He needs to be uncovered so he can fly around and just go get the ball. He didn't have much help over there and he took it upon himself to make as many plays as possible. I love that mindset." AFC East regional scout

    NFL COMPARISON

    Alec Ogletree

    BOTTOM LINE

    Cunningham's missed tackles and lack of desired play strength could bother teams, but his consistent production is hard to ignore. Cunningham is a rangy, three-down linebacker who has a nose for the ball and special teams value. His downhill approach is made for attacking 4-3 defenses and Cunningham could become a good, early starter as a run-and-chase weak-side linebacker. -Lance Zierlein
    Last edited by H2O4me; 4 weeks ago.
    In 2016 Brock Osweiler was rated last (32nd) among all QBs (>400 attempts) by ProFootballFocus and ranked 33rd/34 QBs (>200 attempts) by Football Outsiders.

  • #2
    I said ILB in the draft thread but he will be an OLB. Can fly around and was drafted to replace Simon. Needed to go BPA after Obi was drafted 1 spot earlier.

    Probably won't be a fan favorite (as of right now) because we need OL but turn on the tape, you'll be excited.

    Also, once we get some OL help in the 3rd and 4th round, people will be happy that we got Cunningham in the 2nd.

    Comment


    • #3
      4. ZACH CUNNINGHAM, Vanderbilt (6-3 ½, 235, 4.67, 2): Led the SEC in tackles the past two seasons.

      “He’s a modern-day linebacker,” said one scout. “He’s an athlete. Goes sideline to sideline. Probably not as good as Ryan Shazier or Mosley but a step below. It’s not even close to Foster. Foster’s a great player.”

      Fourth-year junior from Pinson, Ala., with the longest arms (34 3/8 inches) of any LB at the combine.

      “Unique body type for the position,” said another scout. “Makes a lot of plays, gets around the ball, can run. The question is, how much does he love football and being around it? He’s plenty tough but his body type just doesn’t lend itself to being very, very strong.”

      Finished with 295 tackles (39 ½ for loss) and six sacks. Compared by one scout to Scott Fujita and K.J. Wright.

      “Little bit flimsy,” a third scout said. “Doesn’t have a great base.” Wonderlic of 22.

      “I’m not in with him,” said a fourth scout. “There’s no strength or knock-back power when he tackles.”
      http://boards.houstontexans.com/foru...58#post1240558
      In 2016 Brock Osweiler was rated last (32nd) among all QBs (>400 attempts) by ProFootballFocus and ranked 33rd/34 QBs (>200 attempts) by Football Outsiders.

      Comment


      • #4
        We need good quality depth everywhere. If he is a solid rotation guy I'm happy.
        sigpic

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by AngryNateFTW View Post
          I said ILB in the draft thread but he will be an OLB. Can fly around and was drafted to replace Simon. Needed to go BPA after Obi was drafted 1 spot earlier.

          Probably won't be a fan favorite (as of right now) becausw we need OL but turn on the tape, you'll be excited.

          Also, once we get some OL help in the 3rd and 4th round, people will be happy that we got Cunningham in the 2nd.
          We do need OL help,but this guy can flat play. Still, S was a bigger need. QB/OL/S are the top 3 needs. I predicted this playing out this way a couple weeks ago. Smith will skip the key spots and go with LB even if ILB is a bigger need than OLB. So, who plays inside? That's the question. Whit is OLB, Cushing and Bernard are ILB...but talk of Cushing to outside to help seal the edge has been talked about. His speed is down but he has instincts to make up for it.

          I love the pick, as long as OL and S are next. This kid is a baller
          JJ Watt & Co ready to destroy

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by AngryNateFTW View Post
            I said ILB in the draft thread but he will be an OLB...
            He's an ILB to me, not seeing OLB. He's our cover guy. BMac can't cover RBs on the wheel.
            In 2016 Brock Osweiler was rated last (32nd) among all QBs (>400 attempts) by ProFootballFocus and ranked 33rd/34 QBs (>200 attempts) by Football Outsiders.

            Comment


            • #7
              I like this pick. He's a great value here.

              I know we need OL and S, but I think we went BPA. There wasn't a good value OL here, and the DB class is deep. I think we'll go OL in the 3rd, and S/RB in the 4th.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by H2O4me View Post

                He's an ILB to me, not seeing OLB. He's our cover guy. BMac can't cover RBs on the wheel.
                Aint that the truth...BMac def can not cover or keep up on wheel and drag routes...im just curious as to their plan on fixing the Oline at this point...

                Comment


                • #9
                  This is a position that needed to be upgraded, Cushing has been in decline.

                  Strategically you hope that Mike Vrabel made this pick. Some had questions about how much he loved football according to Lance today.

                  But Rick's history, he should be able to find DBs later.

                  In 2016 Brock Osweiler was rated last (32nd) among all QBs (>400 attempts) by ProFootballFocus and ranked 33rd/34 QBs (>200 attempts) by Football Outsiders.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Very pleased with this pick. Dude can flat out play. He was projected much higher and I had. forgotten he was still out there. Good value FWIW. Glad they didn't reach for online there when value wasn't there. Welcome Zach!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Vanderbilt's ZACH CUNNINGHAM IS THE BEST LB YOU HAVEN’T HEARD OF

                      11 MONTHS AGO
                      Good players from Vanderbilt can often get lost in the mix of strong front-7 options in the SEC, but linebacker Zach Cunningham deserves national attention. The former four-star recruit has gained about 30 pounds since entering college while maintaining the athleticism that made him an attractive high school player. Still, Cunningham didn’t receive the big-time offers he probably deserved. Now at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, his size and athleticism compare favorably to the best SEC linebackers, and his on-field performance matches up just as well.

                      After playing 423 snaps as a redshirt freshman in 2014, Cunningham broke out in 2015 with a +21.9 overall grade that ranked 16th among the nation’s linebackers and third in the SEC. He graded positively in all three phases – against the run, in coverage, and as a pass rusher – with his work in the run game ranking second among SEC linebackers and his run stop percentage of 13.4 percent ranking sixth among the nation’s inside linebackers.

                      The first thing that stands out when watching Cunningham is his speed and physicality. When left unblocked, he flies to the ball and his strong closing speed puts him in position on a number of plays. Cunningham attacks blockers with vigor, aggressively using his hands to take on and defeat blocks in the run game. The athleticism shows up in coverage as well, as Cunningham has the range to make plays in zone coverage as well as the movement skills to match up with opposing tight ends and running backs. He uses his length to make plays on the ball in coverage, and that’s a part of his game that will make him an excellent NFL prospect as his understanding of the game continues to progress.

                      Cunningham shows his range and length in coverage:



                      Cunningham beats the block and makes the play in the run game:



                      If there’s one place in which Cunningham must to improve, it’s his ability to finish plays and tackle. He’ll often attack ball carriers too high, leading to his falling off too many tackles or whiffing completely. Even when he does complete the tackle, he doesn’t finish with quite the same power that he shows when looking to take on blocks.

                      Cunningham whiffs on the easy tackle:



                      Cunningham missed one of every 9.7 tackle attempts — 44th-best among inside linebackers — which is actually better than former Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith fared as a sophomore in 2014 when he missed one out of every 6.6 attempts. Smith improved his tackling as a junior before going down to injury and getting drafted in the second round by the Dallas Cowboys, and if Cunningham can make similar strides, he’ll put himself in great position to become an All-American and potentially a top-round draft choice.

                      With a strong showing as a redshirt sophomore, Cunningham has already attracted the NFL’s attention, it’s now time to take the next step in his game. He’s flashed range and play-making ability in coverage, and improving his play recognition will put him in position to make even more plays. Cunningham is a willing run defender, capable of taking on and defeating blocks, but he must improve his tackling and ability to finish plays. If he can continue to progress, Cunningham heads into the 2016 season as a potential All-American candidate and NFL scouts will be keeping a close eye on his development whether he comes out this year or in 2017.
                      Last edited by H2O4me; 4 weeks ago.
                      In 2016 Brock Osweiler was rated last (32nd) among all QBs (>400 attempts) by ProFootballFocus and ranked 33rd/34 QBs (>200 attempts) by Football Outsiders.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by H2O4me View Post

                        He's an ILB to me, not seeing OLB. He's our cover guy. BMac can't cover RBs on the wheel.
                        Yea.. Seems to me Zach is going to be the quick cover guy and McKinney is going to be the power guy. Not thrilled with this positional pick.. But i think the fit in our current defense is very good. He has a skill set we need right now.
                        sigpic

                        Official Texans Beer Thread Creator

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ArkhamKnight92 View Post

                          Yea.. Seems to me Zach is going to be the quick cover guy and McKinney is going to be the power guy. Not thrilled with this positional pick.. But i think the fit in our current defense is very good. He has a skill set we need right now.
                          With most teams spending more time in Nickel and Dime, this makes sense.

                          Cunningham is 234 and he is a little lean. Should be pretty easy for him to jump up to 245.

                          Haven't seen anyone bash the pick, most people like/love it.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Maybe to help stop fournette

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Kid seems to be talented, but I would have been happy with a tackle (even Moton who went several picks later, Texans are now relying on brown holding up the left side for 2 -3 yrs, finding a starting rt tackle with 3rd round or lower. It does no good to stack skill positions when u can't win the battle at the line. Smith better have a miracle in his pocket, or we're going to be giving the QB no time to work with, gun 'shy' , shell shocked coming to mind again for our top pick when he gets anointed behind that line.
                              Last edited by Dream'n#34; 4 weeks ago.

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