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2024 NFL Draft prospect profile: Zak Zinter, OG, Michigan

Zinter’s career at Michigan ended with an injury, but there’s a lot to like on his tape

Michigan v Maryland Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

The New York Giants are one of many teams in need of help along the offensive line. While offensive tackles get most of the attention, the offensive interior is important as well.

Michigan’s Zak Zinter is a tall, long, versatile, reliable, and experienced guard prospect. He’s appeared in 45 games, starting 42, over the course of his four-year career at Michigan, and all but one of those starts has come at right guard. His 2023 season was ended by a broken leg suffered against Ohio State.

Could he be the right guard of the future for the Giants?

Prospect: Zak Zinter (65)
Games Watched: vs. Penn State (2022), vs. Purdue (2022 Big 10 Championship), vs. Rutgers (2023), vs. Penn State (2023)
Red Flags: Fractured tibia and fibula (2023)

Measurables

Height: 6-foot-6
Weight: 322 pounds

Strengths

  • Football IQ
  • Competitive toughness
  • Play strength
  • Short-area quickness
  • Scheme versatility
  • Experience

Zinter possesses a long, athletic frame for an interior offensive lineman. He’s high-cut for a guard, but his frame is filled out well with adequate bulk in his upper and lower halves. He also has adequate flexibility to settle into a compact stance despite his long frame. That allows him to play with good pad level, maximizing his leverage and without clogging interior passing lanes. Zinter is a solid athlete for the offensive interior with good initial and short-area quickness, agility in traffic, and enough foot speed to stay ahead of the play.

He’s a versatile run blocker who is able to displace defenders in downhill man-gap or inside zone runs, while also being athletic enough to get the defense to flow laterally in outside zone plays. Zinter is also a capable pulling guard who’s quick to open his hips and is an accurate blocker in space. It’s a testament to Zinter’s run blocking that the Michigan offense, which is built on their running game, is frequently schemed to run behind Zinter.

Zinter is a reliable pass protector, allowing just 3 sacks, 5 QB hits, and 23 hurries in 1,060 combined pass protection reps in three years. He didn’t allow a single sack or QB hit in 2023.

His length is typically an asset in pass protection, allowing him to effectively reach-block, mirror speed on the inside, or match up with longer pass protectors. He has good hand usage, working to take inside leverage and avoiding holding penalties. He also works to sustain his blocks through the whistle, and and finishes them whenever possible. Zinter doesn’t get stuck on his blocks and does a good job of picking up and passing off defenders on stunts and twists. He shows great competitive toughness and awareness in pass protection, doing a great job of picking up delayed pressure and always looking for work when he isn’t blocking anyone.

Weaknesses

  • Height
  • Consistency in leverage

Zinter suffered a nasty broken leg against Ohio State, fracturing his tibia and fibula. While teams will want to do their due diligence on his medical reports, the injury isn’t expected to impact him long-term. It could keep him from participating in the draft process, however.

The larger concern on Zinter’s tape comes from his height. It’s an asset when he is able to maintain his pad level, however he can lose leverage when his pads rise. Defenders can get under his pads, neutralizing his strength and length advantages. Likewise, Zinter can allow his stance to narrow, compromising his ability to anchor against power as well as his balance. He can wind up on the ground or be walked back into the pocket when his stance narrows.

Zinter’s height can also work against him when pulling through traffic around the line of scrimmage. His naturally high center of gravity can make his balance suspect if he loses his footing in close quarters.

Game Tape

Projection

Zinter projects as a starting guard with scheme versatility at the NFL level. He might be best on a team that primarily uses zone blocking schemes, but his play strength and mobility allow him to succeed in man-gap blocking schemes as well. Zinter’s height may always be an issue for him, and he can be prone to some ugly reps when his stance narrows, hips rise, or otherwise loses leverage. However, his experience and athleticism make losing leverage an uncommon occurrence and there’s far more good than bad on his tape.

Does he fit with the Giants? Yes, Zinter could be the team’s starting right guard in 2024.

Final word: Solid Day 2 prospect