DEEP FRIED DRAFT
DFD COOKBOOK RECIPE
Cunningham can get caught over-pursuing. I do not think he is a very explosive tackler. He has some pass rush ability, but I wouldn’t count on him there. I also question whether he can carry a tight end 15-20 yards down the field.
256 tackles, 6 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 7 fumble recoveries
The inside linebacker position has been devalued somewhat at the next level. Our subject today is trying to break that trend. Zach Cunningham came to Vanderbilt as a four-star recruit from Pinson Valley HS (Pinson, AL). He took official visits to Auburn and Oregon before deciding to attend school in Nashville. Cunningham redshirted in 2013 and then started the last five games of 2014. He had 43 tackles and 1.5 sacks his redshirt freshman season. As a redshirt sophomore, Cunningham made 88 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and 14 tackles for loss. He really emerged in his junior year with 125 tackles and 16.5 tackles for loss. The Georgia game in 2016 was one of the most dominant performances for any prospect in this draft class. He finished that game with 19 tackles including the game-sealing tackle for loss on a 4th-and-1 with under a minute to play.
2016: South Carolina, Georgia Tech, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee
Zach Cunningham shows excellent sideline-to-sideline range. He will be a three-down linebacker. He succeeds in short area coverage. I would feel comfortable with him covering backs and tight ends in a 10-15 yard radius. Cunningham disengages from blocks well. He can sift through the trash well. I also like that he has special teams value as he played on the Vandy punt cover team.
Because he plays at Vanderbilt, Cunningham doesn’t get the attention he should. The obscurity clouds the fact he has been one of the most defensive players in the SEC the last two years. I have seen some that have Cunningham possibly going in the first round. I see him more as a high-to-mid second round pick because of the position he plays.