I might have a draft crush on South Carolina’s Zacch Pickens.
I have no idea why he spells his first name with 2 Cs.
Doesn’t really matter though.
In my most recent mock draft, the Seattle Seahawks moved back from #83 in a trade with the Dallas Cowboys, added a fourth rounder (#129 overall), and then selected Pickens with the 90th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Interestingly, the same day that mock draft was published, a Twitter dude that covers the Houston Texans (@AaronWilson_NFL) reported that Zacch Pickens will be visiting Seattle this week.
South Carolina @GamecockFB defensive tackle Zacch Pickens visiting #Seahawks this week, per a league source— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) April 17, 2023
I would like to think that I had something to do with that, but . . .
It’s probably just a coincidence.
So, who is Zacch Pickens and why might the Seahawks be interested in him?
The WHY is easy . . .
Right now, Seattle has exactly three healthy Defensive Tackles on the 90-man roster:
- Dre’Mont Jones (UFA signing, 3/$51M)
- Jarran Reed (UFA signing, 2/$9M)
- Myles Adams (2020 UDFA; 223 career snaps on defense)
Last year at this time, Seattle had ten defensive tackles on their roster. Either six or seven made the initial roster last season, after final cuts.
To say that the Seahawks are short-handed on the D-line is a massive understatement.
Enter Zacch Pickens . . .
Measurements and Testing Results
With the exception of Zacch Picken’s birthday (acquired via Google) and the wingspan and hand measurements (PFN), the rest of the #s in this section were pulled from 247Sports.com.
- Age: Turned 23 on March 6th
- Height: 6 feet 4 inches
- Weight: 291 pounds
- Arm Length: 34-3/8 inches
- Wingspan: 81-5/8 inches
- Hand size: 10-3/8 inches
Note: Pickens bulked up for South Carolina’s Pro Day on March 13th, adding seven pounds and tipping the scales at 298.
Now, before anyone drops a “Jalen Carter redux” comment, let’s look at this copy/paste from Draft Wire: That’s an important jump for a player who has questions about his ability to anchor on the defensive interior.
Testing Results - NFL Combine
- 40-yard dash: 4.89 seconds
- 10-yard split: 1.74 seconds
- 20-yard shuttle: 4.62 seconds
- Three cone: 7.45 seconds
- Vertical leap: 30-1/2 inches
- Broad jump: 9 feet 8 inches
- Bench press: 22 reps
- Relative Athletic Score (RAS): 9.54
Comparing Pickens to the other DTs at the combine:
- 40-yard dash: 6th
- 10-yard split: 5th
- 20-yard shuttle: 3rd
- Three cone: 4th
- Vertical leap: 4th
- Broad jump: tied for 1st
The Scouting Report on Bell
From Pro Football Network:
It’s fair to wonder if Pickens would have more buzz had he gone to a school like Alabama, Clemson, or Michigan. The five-star recruit, who some likened to 2019 first-round pick Christian Wilkins, had offers from all three schools. But hailing from Anderson, South Carolina, Pickens instead chose to stay in-state and play for the Gamecocks.
It’s not like South Carolina doesn’t have a track record on the defensive line. They’ve produced several early-round prospects on the defensive front, including 2014 first-overall pick Jadeveon Clowney and 2020 first-round pick Javon Kinlaw. But interestingly, even with this history, Pickens himself has gone overlooked.
. . .
More than anything else, a DT’s purpose is two-fold. As a pass rusher, you displace and disrupt the pocket. As a run defender, you hold your ground and obstruct blocking schemes. Pickens is one of the more reliable DTs in the draft when it comes to both displacing and holding his positioning.
Pickens’ stout, well-leveraged frame, sturdy lower body, core strength, and proportional length all serve to grant him exceptional ability as a run defender. But when he can pin his ears back and rush the passer, he shows off eye-popping quickness off the snap and can combine that with his length to generate awesome power and force at contact.
. . .
There is still room for further refinement for Pickens with his hand usage and leverage management, but he’s not a project by any means. He has a working pass-rush arsenal on top of his raw power, and he’s very consistent with his initial leverage acquisition.
Right away, Pickens can be a valuable rotational piece with starting utility, both as a 4-3 DT and a 3-4 end. In time, he has the upside to be an impact starter in multiple phases.
From the 33rd Team:
Zacch Pickens is a thick-bodied and athletic defensive tackle who shows strength to create push. Pickens owns his size to withstand and delay the run game and clog rushing lanes from developing.
From the Draft Network:
(Pickens) has all the tools in the world to be consistently disruptive at the next level and I project Pickens to be an immediate rotational contributor. I believe that Pickens will quickly work his way into a three-down lineman in the NFL.
Health Status (& Stats)
As far as I’ve been able to determine, Pickens has a clean injury history.
Per GameCocksOnline.com, Pickens:
- Is a 4-year letter winner at DT
- Appeared in 47 games for the Gamecocks, including 32 starts
- Recorded 131 total tackles, including 11-1/2 tackles for loss (TFLs) and 7-1/2 sacks
- Had 42 tackles, 4 TFLs, 2-1/2 sacks, 3 pass breakups, 3 quarterback hurries, and a fumble recovery in 2022
- Earned a degree in Sport and Entertainment Management
Every draft board that I’ve seen has Zacch Pickens projected as a Day Two pick, with most having him as a late-Round 2 or early-Round 3 selection.
The PFN Consensus Big Board lists him as the #7 Defensive Tackle and the 67th overall prospect.
PFN has this projection for him:
Pickens grades out as a potential top-75 talent in the 2023 NFL Draft. He’s one of many intriguing Day 2 defensive tackle prospects and should go on to be a quality 3-tech in the league, with some measured alignment versatility beyond that.