Zacch Pickens Complete NFL Draft Profile (South Carolina Defensive Tackle Has Too Much Upside to Ignore)
South Carolina defensive tackle Zacch Pickens is headed to the 2023 NFL Draft after turning in a pair of great seasons in 2021 and 2022. Pickens' athleticism and upside make him a very intriguing pick who may go off the board earlier than you might expect.
Here's everything you need to know about Zacch Pickens heading into the 2023 NFL Draft.
Zacch Pickens Draft Stock & Mock Draft Projections
San Francisco 49ers
Pro Football Network
Mock draft sources accurate as of 4/22: Walter Football, Sporting News, CBS Sports, Pro Football Network, ESPN.
Projected Draft Round: Round 3 (5)
Projected Team: Texans (2), 49ers (1), Cardinals (1), Bears (1)
Zacch Pickens Scouting Report
Zacch Pickens, a defensive tackle from South Carolina, is a dynamic interior defender with the length and experience needed for a gap-control tackle role. His quickness and disruptive first step make him effective against both the run and pass. Pickens demonstrates excellent balance and coordination, using his hands and feet to elude or engage blockers. However, his ability to handle NFL-level drive blockers may be limited, and his anchor in a two-gap role is below average.
Pickens can play both tackle positions in a one-gapping front, making him valuable as a rotational player with the potential to take on a starting role. His athleticism, quick hands, and rapid response to blocking schemes give him an edge, but he may struggle with a bull rush and can be redirected when his pad level is too high.
His natural size and lower body strength allow him to anchor well in the run game, while his agility and closing burst make him a force in pursuit. However, Pickens needs to improve his hand usage and reaction skills to better shed blockers and avoid being neutralized by double teams. His lateral movement and range in backside pursuit are also areas for growth.
Pickens is a disciplined run defender with a high motor, but he may need to work on his hip flexibility and recovery after initial pass-rushing moves. At times, he can be more effective at surging through gaps in run defense and activating torque. While he brings solid energy in pursuit, his range and pursuit speed may not be elite.
Zacch Pickens NFL Draft Prediction
As a raw prospect with great physical tools, Zacch Pickens is the kind of prospect that a team can really fall in love with if they believe they have the coaching staff to unlock his true potential.
It's hard for an interior defensive lineman to really surge up draft boards unless he's a special talent, and while Pickens isn't there yet, he has shown flashes that indicate he could be eventually.
That potential also makes him a particularly interesting pick for a rebuilding team who doesn't need a second- or third-round pick to immediately be able to contribute in a depth role, but who can afford to take some time and exercise patience in unlocking that upside.
An early third-round selection wouldn't surprise me, but I think we could see one of the rebuilding teams picking late in the second round pulling the trigger to make sure they don't miss out.
Prediction: Chicago Bears (Round 2, 61st Overall)
Zacch Pickens NFL Combine Results
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Zacch Pickens South Carolina Stats