The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the market for linebacking help and Zach Cunningham of Vanderbilt is a tackling machine. Does he fit with what the Steelers do? We’re taking a look.
Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
6’3″ 234 lbs.
Key Combine Stats: 35″ vertical, 4.67 forty, 125″ broad jump
2016 Stats: 125 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss
What’s to Like: You can’t teach some of the things he does… Good size, but will need to pack on a few pounds… Always finds a way to get to the ball… Knifes through blocking extremely well with lean frame… Love how he takes on blocker, keeps a shoulder free and then engages the ball carrier… Really solid in man coverage; definitely a three-down backer… Sees and reads things very well in front of him.
What’ Concerning: He’s a little light/little too lean; that’s concerning going against bigger and more agile offensive linemen… Motors down a little sooner than I’d like when plays go away… Needs to improve hand usage… Has a habit of reaching for horse-collar when tackling from behind; has to eliminate that… Lack of speed is a concern.
The Verdict: If you attend Vanderbilt, then you have some smarts and Cunningham does. He should be able to adapt to whatever system he plays in but right now I’m not sure where he fits with the Steelers. The team already has a guy in Ryan Shazier who does much of what Cunningham does. What they need is more of a thumper to replace Lawrence Timmons and spell/replace Vince Williams. Of course there’s always a rub with a guy like Cunningham and Sean Davis dealt with it too. He makes a ton of tackles but he misses a lot of tackles too. I try to be optimistic here. If a guy can get to the ball carrier that often then I can tolerate a few misses. I really like what Zach Cunningham brings as a football player but I just don’t know that I see him in Pittsburgh.
Photo courtesy: Gridiron Now
Video courtesy: Draftbreakdown.com/youtube.com