6’3” 250LB RS Senior from Georgia who did not begin playing football until his Junior year in High School. Was recruited by former Defensive Coordinator Geoff Collins, who was a part of former HC Jim McElwain’s staff at UF. Zuniga finished his career at UF by playing his final 2 years under Dan Mullen, who is renowned for developing DT/DE/OLB like Zuniga. Putting 2 DL in the first round of the 2019 draft with Jeffery Simmons and Montez Sweat, along with players like Chris Jones, Fletcher Cox, Bernardrick McKinney, Preston Smith, etc. etc. It’s an impressive list of players, and Mullen developed Zuniga into a potential high draft pick.
Elite AA for the position; great suddenness and explosiveness off the LOS, maintains balance upon initial contact, and continues to pursue the ball carrier. 250lb DL playing and consistently winning at the 3-tech is highly impressive. Uses his initial quickness and explosiveness to win across the OL’s face, possesses the ability to get skinny, create a small target, and continue to be disruptive in the backfield. Does a very good job playing with leverage; stays low, and does a good job keeping OL’s hands off him by swatting and making himself a small target. UOH play a huge role in his advanced nuanced of defending the run and rushing the passer. Hands are very quick, very effective and isn’t just swatting at air, but does a good job keeping himself clean, before exploding past, or through OL both as a 3-tech or coming off the EDGE. Works back inside effectively on the inside and coming off the EDGE. Works nicely in tight spaces with the ability to beat his opponent through initial and counter move and maintain his angle of attack. Plays with a good, natural body lean as he wins with leverage and strength. Keeps his feet under him, and looks in complete control of what he’s doing. Uses play strength and mental processing to quickly set the hard edge in the run game. Forces backs to cut inside and is there to eat up any outside cut-backs. Say what you want about the Miami offensive line, but keep in mind this guy, week in and week out, was 250LBS, playing in the SEC, playing 3-tech, outweighed by at least 50 pounds and still possessing the endurance to be the EDGE rusher. To me, along with the other attributes I’ve mentioned, that he’s as tough a competitor as you’ll find. A tremendous character trait that shouldn’t be overlooked.
His 2018 tape was very inconsistent in giving us that same explosiveness and get-off we saw much more of in 2019. Plays a lot of his snaps as a 3-tech, which won’t suffice in the NFL on a consistent basis. Lacks the ideal flexibility to get lower than the OT coming off the EDGE, but his hip flexibility allows him to counter and maintain body lean. Could do a better job anticipating snap counts as well; someone with a devastatingly quick first-step like Zuniga, a coach wants to see him max out the skills that correlate with that, and timing the snap is one of them. Pass coverage was non-existent at UF.
There are still some refinements that need to be made to Zuniga’s game (just like any pro prospect) but under the tutelage of Dan Mullen, we saw tremendous progress from 2018 to 2019. I believe Zuniga has put himself in position to fly up draft boards and should go in the 2nd round. He has Baltimore Ravens OLB written all over him. He would also make sense for the Giants at 36 given the fact they’re not completely committed to their 3-4 and run a lot of 4-3 looks in passing situations. Anyone who gets him gets a day-1 starter that plays with advanced nuances of multiple positions that translate well to the NFL. It’s not that he defends the run or pass better than the other, it’s the fact that he just wins off the LOS and knows how to beat his opponent regardless of play call. Then, his athleticism and other traits can take over and allow him to make a play on the QB or ball carrier. As evaluators, it’s too easy to write a guy off saying what he can’t do, but execs want to know what a guy can do because they believe in their coaches, and they believe their staff can put that individual in positions to grow his game, and win from the time they begin their first training camp and that’s why I’ve put a heavy emphasis on what Dan Mullen has done for him. He’s matured his game in 1 year, and brings a lot of skills that translate to the pro game. Skills, traits and tremendous athleticism make Zuniga a great pick for any defensive scheme. Watch #92 in these short clips.