Nov 9, 2013; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) passes the ball against the Auburn Tigers during the first half at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Draft Scouting Report – Zach Fulton, OG Tennessee


Zach Fulton is the right guard for maybe the most talented offensive line in college football in Knoxville.  The Tennessee Volunteers could see all five members of their team get drafted or end up on NFL rosters.  Fulton has great size that has allowed him to be useful in the Vols blocking scheme that has been able to bully opponents this season.

Going to the NFL, Fulton has the frame and the ballast to make an effective player.  He needs to improve his body composition, add more strength while eliminating excess fat around his midsection to get lighter on his feet.  His footwork has a long way to go and he has technical issues to improve upon, but he does offer potential in the NFL.  Fulton projects as a late round pick or undrafted free agent that could be working to make a practice squad and get the physical and technical development he needs to become a contributor in the NFL.

Vitals & Build

Fulton is listed at 6’5” 323lbs with a huge body and a good amount of ballast.  He carries too much weight around his midsection and needs to work on adding more strength and eliminating the fat he is carrying.  His feet are average but he occasionally flashes some quickness there.  His lateral agility is far better than going forward, where he is mediocre at best.  His functional strength needs to improve, but he does have the frame and potential to transform his body as he goes to the next level.

Athleticism

Fulton is pretty limited athlete.  His lateral agility can be functional but it is not great by any stretch.  He struggles going forward as well as with his range.  Fulton struggles getting to the second level and ends up trailing a ton of plays.  In general, he relies on taking up space and is just an underwhelming athlete on the move.

Run Blocking

Fulton has the size and strength to create push in the running game, but he is often too high and struggles to get leverage.  He also does not move particularly well, so he has a difficult time generating momentum.

Fulton’s angles are inconsistent.  He has too many situations where he gives opponents an angle to get off of his block and impact the play.  When he is able to keep them in front of him, he can engulf them and is too wide to be beaten.

The Vols have used him occasionally on the move with a trap block which he was able to execute.  In general, he does not pull well and he struggles to get to the second level.  For the most part, he can get his initial assignment and that is it.

Fulton needs to get stronger, get better in terms of his overall athleticism and movement skills and be more consistent with technique.  If he can do those things, he has the potential to develop into a contributor in the NFL.

Pass Protection

Fulton is better in pass protection but not by much.  His ballast makes him difficult for opponents to get around him and if he is able to keep the opponent in front of him, he will win the vast majority of plays.  His lateral agility can be pretty solid at times and can slide decently, but it can certainly get better.

Fulton gives up the inside far too much and opens the door for opponents to try to work to his inside.  Too often, he is forced to try to shove them out from the middle and push them past the quarterback.  He can slide in protection but he needs to do a better job of keeping his head on a swivel so he can see and protect against delayed attacks or help teammates secure blocks.

Fulton’s mass makes it so he can win against power, but his base is not great and he has trouble re-anchoring.  As a result, Fulton will occasionally give up ground on the bull rush and shrink the pocket his quarterback can work in, which has led to sacks.  Fulton does show a decent punch in pass protection and has been able to stun opponents long enough for him to lock on and shut them down before they get started.  There is potential with Fulton if he can get more athletic and be a more effective bender, but he also has some technical issues to improve.

Technique

Fulton’s angles are far too inconsistent and his hand placement needs to improve, so he stops opponents from being able to work off of his blocks.  He does show a solid punch and if he can add to it in the other area of his game, cutting off angles and working to stay in front of opponents better, he can be more effective.

Footwork

His footwork is the biggest issue that Fulton is going to have to improve going to the NFL and once he gets there.  Fulton has shown he is able to slide decently, but it needs to continue to improve.  He is limited in the fact he cannot offer much in terms of being able to pull or get to the second level at this point, so that needs to get better.

This is the issue that could find Fulton going undrafted and trying to make a roster as an undrafted free agent.  He might be better off trying to lose excess weight in hopes that being more fit would allow him to move quicker and show teams he has the potential to get stronger with time.

System Fit

Right now, Fulton is hoping that one of the pure, power schemes are going to bet on him.  Teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers are teams that could like Fulton as a developmental player that can potentially contribute in a few years.  He needs to be paired with the right coaching staff that can get the most out of him and get him to get in better shape and learn how to improve some of the areas where he struggles, especially with his feet.  The best case scenario is that Fulton makes a roster as one of the last guard spots, but he seems more likely to end up on a practice squad with the potential to develop from there.

NFL Comparison

Fulton’s game could be like Lucas Nix of the Oakland Raiders.  Nix was undrafted with the same time of size as Fulton when he came out of Pittsburgh.  Nix managed to work his way onto the Raiders roster and continues to develop as a guard for them.  That could be the path that Fulton has to take in order for him to make it and succeed in the NFL.

Draft Projection

Zach Fulton looks the part of an NFL offensive lineman purely from a size standpoint.  He has the frame and length to become a good player but he needs to improve his body composition and improve his feet.  Much of the attraction for Fulton as a prospect is more based on what he offers in potential and in the long term rather than what he can do now.  As a result, Fulton projects as a late round pick, but could certainly end up as an undrafted free agent trying to land on a team’s practice squad and mold him into an effective lineman.

Some of the film used for this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com

Tags: 2014 NFL Draft Featured Offensive Guards Popular Tennessee Volunteers Football Zach Fulton