As I was watching this week's game, Anthony Zettel got his second and third pass breakups of the season. I started wondering to myself how many of those he has, since it seems like he gets his hands on the ball more any any defensive lineman out there. Turns out, I was right.
- Through the first six games of the season, Zettel has 3 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.
- Last year, he was tied for the team lead with 3 interceptions, broke up 5 passes, and forced a fumble.
- In 2013, he broke up 2 passes and had 1 interception.
- In 2012, he broke up 2 passes.
- 2012: 15 Tackles, 4 sacks, 2 pass breakups
- 2013: 16 Tackles, 4 sacks, 6 tackles for loss, 2 pass breakups, 1 int
- 2014: 42 tackles, 8 sacks, 17 tackles for loss, 5 pass breakups, 3 int, 1 ff
- 2015 (first 6 games): 23 tackles, 0.5 sack, 6 tackles for loss, 3 pass breakups, 1 ff, 1 fr
2014 was Zettel's big coming out party after making the move to defensive tackle. This year he is on pace for 46 tackles and 12 TFL, even as teams have recognized the necessity of constant double teams.
I think that what makes Zettel a good pro prospect is that he isn't simply a sack machine or a specialist rotational player. He is great in run support, he commands and handles double teams, and he has incredible instincts for broken plays and when to shed a blocker to get to the ball. His fast hands (some of the fastest I've seen), power at the line of scrimmage, good leverage, and sheer violence of motion make him impossible to block one-on-one.
If you're an NFL general manager who is looking for a defensive player that can do it all, Zettel is just the type of player you should be picking up in the 2016 draft. I expect Zettel to shoot up draft boards as he gains exposure at the Senior Bowl or East-West Shrine game, and it would not surprise me at all to see him go on the first day of the draft.