No prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft — or any draft, for that matter — is a “sure thing” or a finished product. Every prospect needs some measure of development. Some are more pro-ready and don’t need much work to be contributors right away. Others, however, will need time to work with coaches to reach their ceiling.
Old Dominion’s Zack Kuntz (who started at Penn State before transferring prior to the 2021 season) is a raw lump of clay as a prospect, but he is absolutely dripping with potential.
The 2023 NFL Scouting Combine saw some truly amazing workouts, but the unheralded tight end might have stolen the show. Kuntz still needs a lot of development, but he’s tall, long, fast, explosive, and agile. He has the traits that NFL coaches will line up to work with.
The New York Giants need to continue to build their offense, and most observers would say that they need players who can contrite “now”. But could they have room on their roster for a prospect with Kuntz’s upside?
Prospect: Zack Kuntz (80)
Games Watched: vs. Western Kentucky (2021), vs. Virginia Tech (2022), vs. Virginia (2022) Red Flags: “Undisclosed Injury” (2022 - required season-ending surgery)
Games Played: 21
Yards (YPC): 862 (9.8 per catch)
Games Played: 5
Yards (YPC): 144 (12.0 per catch)
Best: Athleticism, size, ball skills
Worst: Play strength, blocking, technique, leverage
Projection: A developmental hybrid TE.
Old Dominion’s Zack Kuntz possesses elite athleticism and size for the tight end position at the NFL level.
Kuntz has legitimately rare size and athletic traits for the position and will be one of the most athletic tight ends – or player at any position – in the league immediately upon entering the NFL. He won’t be the fastest, most explosive, or most agile tight end in the NFL. However, few, if any, have his speed, agility, and explosiveness at his size.
Kuntz has a background as both a track athlete as well as a basketball player, and that shows up in his tape. He is a smooth, gliding runner with deceptive downfield speed and even athletic safeties and linebackers struggle to keep up with him when he lengthens his stride. Kuntz’s size gives him instant separation against most second-level players on quick routes over the middle, while his speed and ball skills make him an effective downfield receiver.
Kuntz’s route running has developed over the last two years, and he was beginning to show an understanding of the finer points of route running when his season ended. He is less tentative getting in and out of his breaks, and he flashes the use of head and body fakes at the top of his routes.
As mentioned above, he has good ball skills down the field. Kuntz does a good job of locating and tracking the ball in the air, and generally makes good adjustments at the catch point. His height and 34-inch arms give him an absolutely massive catch radius, which is only made larger by his 40-inch vertical. He is (generally) a “hands” catcher who catches the ball away from his frame and his basketball background shows up at the catch point. He understands how to position his body to box out defenders and high-points the ball like a basketball player going up for a rebound.
Kuntz is still developing as a blocker. He understands his role in the blocking scheme and knows how to get in defenders’ way, but he’s more of a speed bump than a roadblock at this point in his development. Kuntz needs to learn to block with greater leverage, though he struggles to lower his considerable pad level. He also needs to improve his technique as a blocker, as well as his play strength.
Kuntz’s issues with leverage and lowering his pad level also impact his route running. He struggles to drop his hips and cut sharply or carry his speed through his breaks. Kuntz can be prone to rounding his routes, and has to gear down noticeably on sharply breaking routes (such as come-back or curl routes). He can also struggle to adjust to low passes.
Kuntz suffered an undisclosed season-ending injury in 2022 that required surgery to repair.
Overall Grade: 6.6
Zack Kuntz projects as a developmental hybrid tight end at the NFL level.
Kuntz has legitimately rare size and athleticism and could be (for his size) the most athletic tight end in the NFL. He’s an instant size/speed mismatch for any player the defense will match up on him in coverage, and he also has good ball skills.
However, he will also need development as a route runner and particularly as a blocker. He lacks good technique and play strength as a blocker, and needs to improve his technique as a route runner. That said, teams will at least want to try and develop packages to make use of his athleticism down the field. In particular, he could be a weapon early on with vertical routes attacking Cover 3 defenses. They’ll want to use him in 12 or 13-personnel packages, however, so he won’t be depended on as a blocker.
Kuntz certainly comes with risk as a high-ceiling, low-floor lottery ticket of a prospect. However, teams will absolutely want to invest in his potential and he could be drafted sooner than expected based on his upside.