Of all the picks Bob Quinn made in the 2016 NFL draft, this has to be my favorite along with A'Shawn Robinson. In my opinion, the Detroit Lions will get a ton of production out of Zettel once he's ready to break into the starting rotation on the defensive line. He's a guy that can play both the end and tackle position and has a lot of athleticism that other teams are going to wish they hadn't passed on.
But I must admit, I'm no Anthony Zettel expert. There's a lot that I wanted to learn about Zettel and there was only one way to get it. So I packed my bags and headed over Happy Valley. After visiting all six state parks in Centre County, I met up with Black Shoe Diaries' Cari Greene for an education in Zettel. Here's what we learned.
POD: What are your overall thoughts on Zettel's time at Penn State?
BSD: "Dude, have you seen the tree tackling video, and the high kicking of the water bottle that almost took off Saquon Barkley’s head? Anthony Zettel is intense, and crazy and awesome. He’s a threat both in the run and pass game, and you never know what to expect from him—except that he’ll bring it all the time. I’m very glad he chose Penn State."
POD: What is Zettel's biggest strength?
BSD: " His intangibles. Zettel brings an intensity every time he’s on the field, on every down. He doesn’t take plays off, and his motor is ridiculous. He’s athletic as hell, but he definitely has that unquantifiable "IT" factor—he’s crazy and scary in an incredibly good way. He’s a fun player to watch, and he’s been a fun player to cover. "
POD: What is his biggest weakness?
BSD: "Probably his size. He’s been a "tweener" since he first hit the field as a backup defensive end, and he couldn’t crack the starting lineup in 2013 behind one-time freshman All-American Deion Barnes (who went undrafted) and CJ Olaniyan. When Bill O’Brien left Happy Valley and James Franklin came in, Zettel shifted to the interior under new defensive coordinator Bob Shoop—many of us questioned the move, as Zettle couldn't crack the starting lineup, but he did provide a nice pass rush off the edge as the next man in, logging four sacks on the year. We weren’t sure how that speed would translate to the inside—and boy, were we wrong. Zettel came out of virtually nowhere to be All-Big Ten, despite his size. His athleticism and motor makes up for it.
I expect the Lions will shift him back outside, though, so this weakness will likely be somewhat mitigated—but him not having a natural fit anywhere on the line is why I’m thinking he fell as far as the sixth round."
POD: Will Zettel make an immediate impact with the Lions?
BSD: " I’ve been thinking a lot about why Zettel fell to the sixth round, and while a lot can be attributed to his size and his not hugely impressive pro day, some of it has to do with a relatively (compared to his amazing junior year) ho-hum senior year. Zettel’s father passed away this fall, the day before the Penn State-San Diego State game, and Zettel played the game of his year the next day. He also was no longer under the radar, with teams keying in on keeping him in check his final season; that accolade instead went to teammate DE Carl Nassib (and now Brown, poor guy), who was single teamed when Zettel and fellow DT Austin Johnson (taken in the second by the Titans) were double teamed and led the nation in sacks. His numbers fell."
I'd like to thank Cari Greene for her help today. If you're a Penn State fan, she is a must follow on Twitter. Also be sure to check all of her work at Black Shoe Diaries.