Michigan continued to develop the depth and tenacity of its offensive line for the future by adding 2020 4-star offensive lineman Zak Zinter last week. Looking at Zinter, it’s easy to see why Ed Warinner was interested.
Zinter stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 300 pounds, making him malleable in the position he can play at Michigan. In fact, he’s played center, guard and tackle throughout his first three years of high school. Quite the versatile prospect Michigan just got.
Zinter lined up at guard as a junior. He’s simply a mauler who has drawn comparisons to 2019 signee Nolan Rumler for his nasty streak and willingness to finish off blocks.
Yeah, that checks out.
But what really impressed me while watching Zinter’s film is his ability to play low and attack inside the shoulder pads of the defender, which gives him control. Witness this in the play below, where Zinter gets under the defensive lineman who is coming at him low. Zinter bends and gets his hands on the guy’s chest, allowing him to drive forward and finish off with a pancake and the guy on his back.
This also helps when Zinter is pulling. He finds his man and engages, opening up a lane for the running back.
Even when he’s going against smaller players, like the outside linebacker/safety in the play above, Zinter still gets low and uses that leverage to drive the guy onto his back.
He does this again on more of a trap pull straight down the line. You can see him actively bending at the knees and using his low stance to explode up and drive out. His finish not only takes out the main guy he’s blocking, but also trips up two other guys like a bowling ball knocking down pins.
There are some instances where Zinter could improve his footwork. Sometimes he’ll take a false step with his right foot, just picking it up and putting it down without moving it anywhere. That wastes time and doesn’t give you any power.
He also could work on being quicker, as evidenced by the play below
In this play, Zinter knows he has to get the guy shaded on the shoulder of the center. On the snap, instead of sliding over, he opens up by taking a step backwards and shoves the guy to the ground, because he knows he can.
In the Big Ten, where defensive tackles are much quicker, giving up that much space without any contact will end in immediate pressure to the quarterback. Instead of dropping back, Zinter has to slider laterally and cut the guy off without giving up too much depth. This takes agility and good footwork, which are areas he can improve.
Zinter looks to be another prospect who will be able to move around the line wherever he is needed, whether it be guard or right tackle. Keeping him in the interior, where he’ll be able to use his targeting skills to lock on to defenders while pulling and reaching the second level, will be the best use of his ability in my opinion.