Prospect Profile: Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham

Posted Mar 20, 2017

Zach Cunningham

Inside linebacker | Vanderbilt | Redshirt junior

Height: 6-foot-4 | Weight: 230 pounds

College Stats

2016: totaled 125 tackles (71 solo) with 16.5 tackles for loss; added a forced fumble and four fumble recoveries; finalist for Butkus Award and semifinalist for Bednarik Award; became first Commodores player to earn unanimous  First Team All-America recognition; earned First-Team SEC honors

Career: totaled 285 total tackles with 39.5 tackles for loss (third-most in school history) and 6.0 sacks; played in 36 career games, after he began playing as redshirt freshman; regarded as one of the best Vanderbilt defensive players in school history

Combine Results

40-yard dash: 4.67 seconds

Bench press: 15 reps of 225 pounds

Broad jump: 10 feet, 5 inches

Vertical jump: 35 inches

3-cone drill: 7.03 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.29 seconds


Summary: Cunningham finished the season ranked as the SEC’s top tackler with 125, and his 71 solo tackles ranked second. Although he doesn’t come from a well-known football school, Cunningham’s play-making ability gained notoriety. Besides being stout against the run, Cunningham can also match up with running backs and tight ends in coverage.

Lance Zierlein of said Cunningham is a “play-making machine. Plays on a downhill tilt and is always looking to draw first blood. Fast to see it, process and respond. Creates tackles for losses by shooting gaps at appropriate angles. Has a good feel for blockers and uses varied speeds and subtle upper body turns to avoid blockers on second level. Quick in his lateral scrape and races ahead of blockers.”

Stacking up: NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock has Cunningham as the No. 3 overall prospect at linebacker. Fellow analyst Bucky Brooks has Cunningham as his third-ranked outside linebacker. Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated has Cunningham as No. 2 overall linebacker, and added he may be the “best of the bunch” among all linebackers.

Old buddies: An economics major who plays the guitar, Cunningham is a former teammate of Vikings defensive end Stephen Weatherly, who learned how to play nine instruments.