LB Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt

6’3” – 234 lbs. – 4.67

Started five games as a redshirt freshman and nine as a sophomore, then enjoyed a highly productive junior campaign before declaring for the draft. Projects as more of a weakside linebacker at the next level, with impressive height and length but a thin build; however, did take some snaps as the middle linebacker when his team was using three on the field simultaneously. Has impressive movement skills and looks natural when flowing to the ball. Racked up a lot of tackles for loss by anticipating rushing attempts and knifing into the backfield. However, is susceptible to misdirection and play fakes; can be moved out of position by good play design. Often asked to play in space or cover receivers releasing into the flats. In coverage, has a controlled backpedal and good balance; most of his coverage work comes with zone responsibilities, but has the size/length to potentially develop into a player who could match up against opposing tight ends in man coverage, or to cover running backs running patterns out of the backfield. Appears to have a pretty good feel for routes developing. Able to plant and drive on a spot and make tackles from sideline to sideline. Does a good job of picking up receivers running shallow crosses. Gives the rare blitz look but isn’t really used in that role on a very regular basis. Willing to get physical at the point of attack when taking on blocks, but doesn’t have a particularly strong anchor. Gets to a lot of spots and is usually around the ball but is not a very high-percentage finisher. Length gives him an impressive tackling radius. Not a very reliable or secure tackler; attempts a lot of arm tackles, slips off of a lot of attempts, and lacks stopping power. Has some troubling breaking down and squaring up opponents; overruns a lot of spots. That said, does a good job of attacking the football when he’s in position to go for a strip. Covered kicks and punts on special teams and has a good athletic profile for that sort of role at the next level as well. Has a lot of the physical and athletic tools teams are looking for and could develop into a starting option on the weakside or possibly in the middle but has a ways to go in terms of developing his instincts, becoming a more efficient tackler, and adding strength/physicality. Would be best in a simple defense that covers him and allows him to run to the ball.

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