2014 NFL Draft: Pre-Season Breakdown – Ty Zimmerman, S Kansas State


Nov 3, 2012; Manhattan, KS, USA; Kansas State Wildcats defensive back Ty Zimmerman (12) yells at a teammate during a 44-30 win over the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas State program under Bill Snyder has done such a terrific job of making the most of their local resources and getting guys with less than ideal athleticism to perform at an incredibly high level.  The times they get great athletes, those players turn into superstars like with Arthur Brown last year.  This year, Ty Zimmerman, their talented safety, is another local kid from Kansas who has gone to the Little Apple and become a terrific player.

Zimmerman is coming off of a junior year where he had 39 solo tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 5 interceptions, a pair of pass deflections and a fumble recovery.  While Zimmerman’s athleticism will not wow anyone, he plays extremely smart and plays good, fundamental football both as a run defender and in pass coverage.  He will leaves play on the field occasionally but he also has a knack for making a game changing play.  If Zimmerman can continue or even expand on his level of heady play from last year while improving his athleticism, he could end up as a solid day two pick.  As it stands now, Zimmerman is a good player that will probably not be attractive to everyone going forward to the NFL, but grades out on the fringes of the top 100.

Vitals & Build

Zimmerman is listed at 6’1” 203lbs though he looks leaner.  He appears to have a decently developed trunk but could still add strength to his arms and legs.  Zimmerman’s speed is relatively average and it would not be a surprise if his testing is not overly impressive.  He does break well on the ball and shows more juice in that respect but Zimmerman relies on intelligence and instincts to be an effective player.  There does appear to be some physical potential to continue developing in terms of his strength and athleticism which would help Zimerman as he does play smart, but it is unlikely he will ever be an overwhelming physical specimen.


Zimmerman is an inconsistent tackler.  When he is able to get in position and be in front of the ball carrier, he does a good job of wrapping up and getting the job done.  The problem he runs into is when he has to make quick adjustments or has to make tackles laterally.  He ends up missing more plays than he should and his average athleticism looks worse than it should.  Projecting that forward, it could make some teams nervous about his ability to make plays in the running game.

Run Support

Zimmerman will come up full speed, break down and then work to get to the play.  In that respect, he does a fantastic job, but he is not overly physical when it comes to taking on and defeating blocks.  His range is limited sideline to sideline and he will run into problems when he facing a great athlete who can force him to change directions.

He does a good job of reading the play, diagnosing and attacking.  He is not terribly fast but he plays much faster because he has such a good sense of what is going on, takes good angles to the play, and will make some big plays in the backfield on occasion.


Zimmerman is extremely smart in coverage.  For the most part, he plays zone and does a great job anticipating where the opponent is attacking.  Much of the time, the rest of the Wildcat defense is in man and Zimmerman seems to float until he anticipates the receiver that is coming into his area or sees where there is going to be a problem and then goes to plug the hole.  As a result, he will get in some situations where he can make plays on the football and cause turnovers.  Zimmerman relies on making smart reads on the play and anticipating what is going to happen in the play because faster players will give him problems down the field if he does not.  If he makes a bad read, he will be in position to be victimized, but those situations are few and far between.

Ball Skills

Zimmerman has shown natural hands and is comfortable catching the football.  It is important to point out that Zimmerna’s ability to anticipate and diagnose is part of why he is effective.  He puts himself in position to make the interception much easier and ends up having interceptions come right to him.  Nevertheless, he does show the ability to go and get the football.  He does not make a ton of plays on the football but when he does, he makes the most of his opportunities.  His speed is not overwhelming but does seem to accelerate well and have the ability to break on the ball well in no small part because of his instincts and anticipation.

System Fit

Zimmerman’s best fit in the NFL might be as a free safety but he could also be effective in a hybrid role that allows him to make plays underneath occasionally and jump some routes.  Zimmerman does a good job of protecting over the top and seeing what is coming at him so he knows where he needs to go but there is a small concern about his range.  He can do some of the things that would be called for as a strong safety but he needs to be stronger at the point of attack.  He could be a nice situational player in coverage as a second safety coming in for more of a run stopper if nothing else that can make plays, especially in the middle of the field.  Players who can cause turnovers the way Zimmerman can have a way of sticking on rosters and finding their way on the field.

2013 Schedule

Fri, Aug. 30vs. North Dakota State
Sat, Sept. 7vs. LA-Lafayette
Sat, Sept. 14vs. Massachusetts
Sat, Sept. 21at Texas
Sat, Oct. 5at Oklahoma State
Sat, Oct. 12vs. Baylor
Sat, Oct. 26vs. West Virginia
Sat, Nov. 2vs. Iowa State
Sat, Nov. 9at Texas Tech
Sat, Nov. 16vs. TCU
Sat, Nov. 23vs. Oklahoma
Sat, Nov. 30at Kansas

Notable Games

The games that are going to test Zimmerman the most are games where they want to test his range.  The first of these is going to be Texas.  While Texas has been down by their standards recently, they do have talented players like Mike Davis at receiver and Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown at running back that could be tough on the Wildcats and Zimmerman.  Baylor is a similar deal but out of a spread type look with Lache Seastrunk and fast receivers like Tevin Reese could put a lot of stress on Zimmerman all over the field from sideline to sideline.  Lastly, Oklahoma has Blake Bell taking over at the quarterback position which provides a dual threat with size and strength.  In addition, they have Damien Williams as a running back and athletic receiving threats in Jaz Reyolds and Jalen Saunders.

NFL Comparison

In many ways, Zimmerman is a slightly bigger version of Rashad Johnson.  Johnson was a third round pick out of Alabama not because of his physical talent but because he was a smart, instinctive player that understood the position.  Zimmerman is bigger than Johnson which should only help him but he has the same type of need to be making plays based on his instincts and intelligence rather than purely on athleticism.  Coaches love having guys like Johnson and Zimmerman who know the defense, can get guys lined up, and see the field well.

Draft Projection

At this point in the process, Zimmerman looks like a fringe top 100 pick but there could be some teams that love him and what he brings to the table while others do not take a long look at him because he does not meet certain athletic benchmarks.  He is an extremely smart player and if he can improve his athletic ability, it could have a big impact on his draft stock but it seems unlikely that he will go any higher than a higher second day pick.