The Wedge Scouting Report: Zach Cunningham, LB

There are so many perks to being an Intergalactic Agent.  You get a cool space ship.  The right to travel through worm holes.  You get the great memories of hearing the screams of all lifeforms you eliminate.  And you get to be a celebrity.

Recently I was asked to judge the Miss Xyuboverse Contest.  Well what green blooded life form would turn that down?

alienbeutycontest

Here I was, little ole Wedge surrounded by beautiful tentacles!

The pressure…who will win the blue ribbon?

But you know despite the bevy of intergalactic beauties around me…I cannot keep my mind off the NFL draft.

Focus….I need to FOCUS…who will win the blue ribbon.

You know who I think wins the blue ribbon of Linebackers…Zach Cunnigham

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Calling anyone from Vanderbilt a blue ribbon winner may sound like a surprise to some.  But take a closer look.  Vanderbilt played a tough SEC schedule and Zach Cunningham was a force on that defense all year long.

#41 is a 6-4, 23o pound junior who declared for the NFL draft on January 14, 2017. Most early reports suggest Cunnigham will be drafted in Round 1 or Round 2 of the NFL Draft.  I would be surprised if he wasn’t one of the first 50 players off the board.

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When you watch Cunningham the first thing that might jump out to you is somewhat of a lanky fame.  Actually, when Cunningham was recruited from Pinson Valley High he was barely over 200 pounds and was said to be mistaken for a safety.

The four star high school recruit’s athletic abilities were obvious despite his size.  He visited a few SEC schools before deciding on Vanderbilt.  Cunnigham has said that his decision to go to Vanderbit was primarily based on academics.

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Georgia

Once Cunningham arrived at Vanderbilt he redshirted his freshman year.  During that time he gained 30 pounds.  Now chiseled at 230 pounds, Cunningham looks like an NFL 4-3 Outside Linebacker.

In his freshmen year at Vanderbilt, Cunningham was eased into a role.  He managed to finish the 2014 year with 43 total tackles.  Almost half of those tackles, however, were recorded in his last two games against the Gators and the Volunteers.  In that game vs Florida Cunnigham recorded his first double digit tackle day with 11 tackles.

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Cunningham would end up getting 12 more double digit tackle days over his next two years.  He just kept getting better.

Over his three year career Cunningham finished with 256 tackles, 36 of them for losses.  He also had 6 sacks and 6 forced fumbles.

Cunningham played inside at Vanderbilt, and its yet to be seen how he will be used in the NFL.  But his versatility is evident.  Cunningham was effective against the run and in coverage.  He even made some special teams plays!

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Some scouts have been saying that Cunningham may need another year in college, particularly to refine his tackling.  But I see an athletic linebacker who may make a seamless transition into the NFL.

Pro Football Focus calculated that Cunningham missed one of every 9.7 tackle attempts which was better according to PFF than Jaylon Smith last year.

But there is one wrinkle to be aware of – Zach Cunningham puts himself in position to make a play more than anyone else.

He’s got instincts.  Cunnigham is a cerebral linebacker…But he’s not just smart.  He’s Smart and aggressive.  Cunningham picks his spot very quickly, he’s decisive and he ATTACKS!

He kind of reminds me of a sidewinder life-force seeking missile.  This is the easies comparison to an Alien Weapon of Destruction I’ve made.

cunninghammissile

You can read more about Zach Cunningham on Professor Lou’s scouting sport:

2017 NFL Draft Prospect Scouting Report-Zach Cunningham

And you can watch his highlights here:

 

 

 

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236 Responses to The Wedge Scouting Report: Zach Cunningham, LB

  1. The Flying Pig says:

    That’s fine Jahn
    But I think we can cut out the “delicious” part

  2. The Flying Pig says:

    I’m in my office right now
    I have a Supreme Court argument tomorrow
    I’ve prepared thoroughly

    but I always prepare a little more the night before
    the problem is – bc of the storm, it might be adjourned

    and so I am patiently waiting for an update from the courts in hopes that the courts are closed

    its silly

    but I don’t want to waste time in my office preparing just to hear it was adjourned

    So I’m wasting my time for an update

    WTF

    • Tim Knight says:

      Your honor, Piggy states that the state says your view on the 7 Samurai according to Piggy doesn’t count. What kind of BS is that? LOL

    • Ken says:

      I had to meet a client today -at a pig farm- or as the client calls it – a piggery. Of course I thought of you Piggy.

  3. Brian in NY says:

    Tim,
    In rare cases, players can outplay their rookie contracts; Landry has done that.

  4. I agree w/Tim. We don’t need to be getting these guys under contract early. I also believe there’s going to come a point in time when Gase has his system in flux to the point where he’ll be able to use numerous pieces and we’re not going to be held hostage by any one particular player anymore and we’ll be able to let them walk and just plug in the next guy.
    Think we need one to two more full seasons before that happens but he will get us there.

  5. The Flying Pig says:

    22: R1P22
    EDGE DEREK BARNETT
    TENNESSEE
    54: R2P22
    EDGE T.J. WATT
    WISCONSIN
    98: R3P34
    TE JAKE BUTT
    MICHIGAN
    167: R5P22
    DL TANOH KPASSAGNON
    VILLANOVA
    177: R5P32
    C KYLE FULLER
    BAYLOR
    185: R5P40
    LB KEITH KELSEY
    LOUISVILLE
    207: R6P22
    LB HARDY NICKERSON
    ILLINOIS
    243: R7P22
    G JESSAMEN DUNKER
    TENNESSEE STATE

  6. Jahndoh30 says:

    The upshot to signing players a year early is you get a better rate. Especially if you know it’s going to be a sizeable contract like Landry, putting it off only costs you more in the long run.

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