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Texans select Zach Cunningham in the 2nd round

Discussion in 'Houston Texans' started by Nimo, Apr 28, 2017.


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  1. Nimo

    Nimo Member
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    Jul 16, 2012
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  2. Nimo

    Nimo Member
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    Zach Cunningham will be a tackle machine for the Texans
    The All-American linebacker brings athleticism and intuition to a unit in need of a boost.
    by Christian D'Andrea@TrainIsland Apr 28, 2017, 9:05pm EDT TWEET

    [​IMG]Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
    The Texans have added to last year’s top defense. The selection of rangy Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham with the 57th pick in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Houston might have gotten a little better.

    Cunningham, a consensus All-American as a junior last fall, should be able to fill several needs as a professional. After all, it’s what he did in Nashville, arriving as a four-star recruit and becoming the jewel of head coach Derek Mason’s defense after an initial redshirt season.

    How did Cunningham become Vanderbilt’s best defensive prospect in decades?
    It didn’t take long for the Pinson, Ala., native to become a force. Cunningham was starting by the end of his first season on the field, and he was named first-team All-SEC as a sophomore. By the time he declared for the draft, he’d left his mark as one of the most versatile and clutch linebackers in the country.

    Cunningham is a plus defender in all aspects. While he’s a bit lean at 234 pounds, that light frame helps him cover ground from sideline to sideline as a run stopper and in pass coverage. He racked up 125 tackles last fall, including 16.5 for losses, but managed to break up or defend six passes when Mason asked him to drop in coverage to shadow tight ends and slot receivers.

    But the most impressive part of Cunningham’s game can’t be quantified in statistics. His timely, out-of-nowhere tackle against Georgia helped seal what was, at the time, Vandy’s biggest win in years.

    Three weeks later, he snuffed out Auburn’s insurance field goal to give the ‘Dores a chance to tie the game with a last-ditch drive. The game provided an excellent example of Cunningham’s athleticism and flair for clutch plays.

    His ability to emerge from nowhere and drag down ballcarriers made him the most important member of a resurgent Vanderbilt defense. Cunningham has a nose for the ball and an inherent ability to make plays. His college coach compares Cunningham’s ability to diagnose and key plays to that of Richard Sherman, whom Mason coached at Stanford.

    Where will he need to improve in the NFL?
    The former Commodore isn’t free of concerns. As an inside linebacker, he doesn’t add the kind of premium pass-rushing ability many teams look for with their first-round selection. He graded out well, but not exceptionally so, during drills at the NFL Combine.

    But, most importantly, he struggled with missed tackles in college. His instincts and discipline frequently put him in position to make momentum-stalling stops, but his eagerness at the point of contact also led to some embarrassing whiffs last fall. He comes up big when his team needs him the most — his 19 tackles in an upset win over Georgia included a 4th-and-1 stop to seal the game — but he’ll also come up short now and then.

    How does he fit in the Texans defense?
    The Texans defense has been dominant, and Cunningham will fit right in and possibly make them a little better next season.
  3. houstonstime

    houstonstime Member

    Jun 10, 2014
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    So last year we drafted speed, this year we are drafting clutch? lol okay.

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