Somebody pinch me because I must be dreaming, April has come at last! Are you guys as excited as I am?
For the next few weeks leading up to draft day I am going to breakdown a player a day that I believe the Ravens should/will target. Starting today I will be looking at second round targets. First up, Wisconsin OG Kevin Zeitler.
Back on December 13, in my very first Ebonybird.com post, I had this to say about Kevin Zeitler.
“Zeitler is one of the key cogs in Wisconsin’s dominant running game, he is an excellent fit for the Ravens new zone blocking run scheme, he is extremely athletic for his size(though he lacks the Elite strength of Lucas Nix) and has no trouble engaging blockers on the line and disengaging to pick up extra blitzers or lineman that twist inside, he excels getting off his first level block to make extra blocks downfield. His pass protection is suspect at times and he struggles against bull rushes but he has bulked up each year in college and there is no reason he can’t add 20 or so more lbs to his frame(currently 6’4” 318lbs) to adjust to the NFL level. The extra weight would serve him well since he lacks overwhelming upper body strength. Zeitler should be available in the second round and could slide to the third if he has a poor combine.”
Since then Zeitler has seen a a sizable rise in his draft stock and is now considered to be an early-mid second round choice rather than a late second early third like he was at the time, but he is still attainable by the Ravens.
What He Does Well
Zeitler is an Elite Run Blocker. he does an excellent job opening up holes. He does as good a job shedding defenders and getting to the second level as any college prospect in the past 5 or 6 years. He Excels during the times when Wisconsin diverted from their power blocking offense into a zone oriented scheme. Zeitler is, in my estimation, a large reason for the success of fellow Wisconsin lineman Peter Konz(center) and 2011 1st rounder Gabe Carimi(LT). His dominance at the point of attack has made the players on either side of him look like all stars and boosted their stock.
Zeitler does a great job of playing with a low pad level and keeping good leverage. He rarely overextends on plays and does a great job of using his hands to keep would be pass rushers at bay.
Where He Needs Improvement
This mostly comes down to his pass protection. i want to clarify before o start that Zeitler is not a bad pass protector, he just is not an Elite pass protector. That said, Zeitlers pass protection needs some work. He struggles at times against speed rushers and can sometimes get caught biting on the twist blitz. It is all fixable, but still a problem.
Zeitler is probably the 5th best interior lineman in the draft as of right now(Decastro, Glenn, Konz, Osemele) but he has more potential than any of the other player in the group and has the intangibles to be the best of the bunch. He is a better run blocker than any other player in the draft and has shown huge potential in the passing game and has gotten better with progressive season in college.
Pro Player Comparison: Marshall Yanda, RG, Baltimore Ravens
Zeitler doesnt have the versatility of Yanda, but he has the mean streak and the tenacity to be the type of player Yanda is. Zeitler is just as much of a mauler in the run game as Yanda is.