The Best Value in the draft at Nose Tackle: Zach Kerr

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

This week we'll be previewing One of the most important positions in a 3-4, Nose Tackle.

Before I get into how Zach Kerr projects as a player, I had the chance to interview him yesterday, and talk about everything from how he got to where he is now, to his favorite fast food restaurant. Be sure to check that out.

Friday, when I went over players with 2nd round grades that I've watched, I really caught some folks when they saw the name Zach Kerr. If you search his name, you'll probably see he's a 6th or 7th rounder. Going in and watching him, with not knowing anything about him, I expected to come away thinking he's just another guy. Boy, was I wrong. But before we get into Kerr, here's how his measurables stacked up against other defensive tackles in the draft.

Measurable Kerr Average DT
Height 6'1 6'3
Weight 323 305
Arm Length 32 7/8" 33 1/4"
Bench 28 27.5
Vertical 28.5 29"
Broad Jump 99" 104"
3 Cone 7.93 7.64
20 Yard Shuttle 4.71 4.63

On the surface, the initial reaction one would have is Kerr isn't very athletic. Luckily, combine numbers≠on field performance. Let's get into what matters.

Run Stopping Ability

In San Diego's 3-4 2-gap scheme, the nose tackle is asked to constantly take on double teams and hold his position at the point of attack so the linebackers can make plays. Current starter Sean Lissemore is solid at this, but he doesn't really have the initial burst to be disruptive, and he ends up on the ground too much for my liking.

Kerr has the quickness to get into the center before he's doubled, and from there, he walks him back into the quarterback.

Kerr6_medium

Kerr fires off low, locks out, and generates speed to power as well as anyone his size. What I liked about Kerr, is that he showed he finds the ball, and can finish the play.

2 more GIFs on why Kerr can be successful. Unlike Cam Thomas, he's not selfish. He's proven he can hold his spot against the double team, allowing linebackers to make the play. It's on them if they do or not.

Kerr7_medium

As I've mentioned, he's quick enough to be disruptive, as well.

Kerr8_medium

Another thing I loved about Kerr is that when the defense needed a stop, he showed up and made a big play. Below, it was 3rd & 3. He was able to beat the double team, locate the running back, and make a stop.

Kerrrun_medium

Hand Usage/Placement

This ties into Kerr's leverage, as far as hand placement. When he fires off low, he's unblock able, because he gets his hands on the offensive lineman's numbers and takes them where he wants to go. When Kerr comes off high, he doesn't get a chance to lock his arms out and win. He could also show better hand usage. He doesn't have a "plethora" of pass rush moves. He seems pretty set on using an arm over move. It's usually either that, or a bull rush.

First Step

Here is a spreadsheet on all the combine numbers for defensive tackles, only 3 players had a 10 yard split of 1.72 or under. Kerr was one, the other two were 20 & 24 pounds lighter than him.

This is how quick Kerr is capable of getting into the backfield.

Kerrr_medium

Kerr has a good first step. Again, it's all pad level. If he explodes out instead of up, he's dangerous.

Disengaging

As a 2-gap nose tackle, if you disengage, you're likely hanging out someone to dry behind you. It's almost a catch 22 type of deal. Kerr could certainly improve at disengaging. It's one of the few areas I didn't come away impressed. This is where his lack of moves come into play and hurt him.

Leverage/Strength

I'd say about 75% of the time I'd say Kerr fires off the ball with good pad level, and that's when he can dominate, that's where he flashes special capabilities. That's where he gets to use his best trait, his strength. Because of his first step, Kerr can generate speed to power at an incredibly high rate.

Zkpower_medium

His strength absolutely overwhelmed lineman.

Skateszk_medium

These are all different games, by the way.

Skateszk1_medium

Pass Rush

Unlike most nose tackles, Kerr is a legitimate threat on passing downs. As the GIFs above showed, his ability to collapse the pocket is tremendous. He also shows great quickness when he's shooting gaps or coming off of a stunt to make a play.

Kerr1_medium

Because of this, I believe Kerr can play any spot on the defensive line, adding much needed depth. He will need to add more than just an arm over move and a bull rush to be consistently productive at the next level, however.

Motor

You will see Kerr take plays off. You will see him kind of half-ass it at times, specifically later on in the drive. Kerr is 323 pounds, this is to be expected. It's not excused by any means, but all defensive lineman do this. That said, he's shown that when he's fresh he can play through the whistle and get up and down the line of scrimmage.

Kerrmotor_medium

This is last one all effort. Telesco said he wants high energy guys, well Kerr was always pumping the crowd up in between plays, high five-ing teammates, getting hyped on pass broken up by other teammates. You don't think they notice plays like this?

Kerreffort_medium

Grade/Final Thought

Multiple Pro Bowl Player, Top 10 8.5 – 9.0
Highly Productive Starter, 1st Round 8.0 – 8.4
Very Good Starter, Early 2nd Round 7.8 – 7.9
Reliable Starter, 2nd Round 7.5 – 7.7
Potential Starter in Year 2, 3rd Round 7.0 – 7.4
Backup/Spot Starter, 4th Round 6.5 – 6.9
Productive Backup, 5th Round 6.0 – 6.4
Very Good Backup/STs, 6th Round 5.5 – 5.9
Quality Backup/Good STs, 7th Round 5.0 – 5.4
Backup/STs/Project Player, 7th Round 4.5 – 4.9
Priority Free Agent w/ Limitations 4.0 – 4.4
Non-Draftable

Trait Weight Grade
Run Stopping 2 1.7
Hand Usage/placement 4 3.6
First Step 2 1.8
Tackling 2 1.9
Disengage 3 2
Read & React 2 1.5
Leverage/Strength 4 3.7
Pass Rush 2 1.7
Motor 2 1.5
Lateral Movement 2 1.7

Kerr grades out to a 7.6, or a mid 2nd round talent who can be a reliable starter. I'd be lying to you if I told you he's the next coming of Jamaal Williams. He's not, that guy isn't walking through the door anytime soon. Kerr plays too high at times, and that causes him to lose the rest of the play. He could stand to be quicker to read and react, and not take as many plays off. That said, he has an incredible skill set to work with and did much more than flash, he dominated in the games I watched.

How He Fits as a Charger

Delaware was very multiple, they lined Kerr up head up on the center(0 technique), would shade him over the shoulder in the gap of the center(1 technique), or even kick him out over the guard to play a 2/3 technique. He would play predominantly 0 technique, and would have continue to have a chance to be disruptive, while holding up on double teams and allowing Donald Butler and Manti Te'o to make plays behind him. Kerr holds double teams longer than Lissemore, and could spell both defensive ends if need be. He's a versatile player that could turn out to be a true gem in this draft. I expect him to go sometime on Day 3, likely the 5th or 6th round, but he's far more talented than that.

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