Back in April, the Green Bay Packers used their second fourth-round pick of the 2022 NFL Draft on offensive tackle Zach Tom from Wake Forest. The rookie left tackle started all 14 games at left tackle (23 total in his career) for the Demon Deacons, played a team high 1,205 offensive snaps, and was a first team All-ACC selection.
He also played 14 games at center over the entirety of his time at Wake Forest. After his senior season, he participated in the 2022 Shrine Bowl in Las Vegas where he took snaps at both tackle positions and at center.
It’s not entirely known where or what position Tom will eventually play full time, but given the Packers’ need to shuffle the offensive line around in 2021 by having players play multiple offensive line positions, it’s not out of the question that Tom could be asked to learn both tackle and center. He’s already lined up center for the first part of the rookie practices that occurred recently.
“I want to be somebody who can play all five positions at a high level. That’s the goal. That’s my main goal for offseason, through camp. I want to be somebody who can go out there at any position and you can rely on to perform at a high level,” Tom said after the Packers recent rookie minicamp.
Below are his physical measurables and testing numbers from the NFL Combine.
HEIGHT: 6’4 1/4”
HAND: 10 3/8”
ARM: 33 1/4”
WINGSPAN: 6’8 3/8”
40-YARD DASH: 4.94
His Mockdraftable spider graph puts him in a category with other notable offensive linemen like Joel Bitonio, Rashawn Slater, David Quessenberry, and Ali Marpet.
What Zach Tom does well
One of the first things that stands out about Zach Tom is how light he looks on his feet, his lateral quickness, and his ability to push defenders and redirect them past the pocket.
Tom displays good balance and get off at the snap, nice low pad level, and uses the momentum of the defender to push him past the quarterback. He stays engaged through the contact and controls the defender, ensuring he never has a chance to get to the quarterback.
He also shows good hand usage combined with strength to control the defender’s movements in pass protection.
Here, Tom lets the pass rusher make the first move with his punch and lets him declare his rush. He shoots his inside hand low and under the rusher’s arm and latches on to the defender. The defender is unable to regain control of his arm, and Tom is able to beat back the hand fighting of the defender with his outside arm as the defender tries to swim over.
Tom’s best game came against Florida State where he spent most of the game in pass rush situations versus first round pick Jermaine Johnson. It was Johnson’s least effective game as a pass rusher. In the run game, Tom shows good timing to get to his combo blocks on the inside zone and, although he will not overpower an opposing defender, he shows he still has enough lower body agility and quickness to move defenders off their spot.
On this trap run play, he shows an ability to get to the second level and quickly locates his block. Notice his leg drive and quickness and how that allows him to displace the defender downfield away from the line of scrimmage.
Although the defender is still able to latch onto the back, Tom stays with the block and enables his running back to get more yards as the defender can’t adequately bring him down. His best tools will be his lower body drive while he adds strength to his upper body.
In pass blocking, he was decent overall in college but perhaps his best game came against Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson, whom the New York Jets moved back into the 1st round to draft.
Tom stonewalled Johnson on numerous pass rush reps throughout the game.
College offenses have required offensive linemen to think quicker and react sooner than they have in the past as their opponents look to adapt to changing offensive schemes. College defenses are constructing themselves in a way that lets them get numbers versus the run-pass option attack of the modern college offense and this means dropping defenders anywhere they can gain an advantage to stop the run.
This means an offensive linemen must be able to react quickly post-snap with what he sees and immediately look for work.
Here versus Louisville, Tom shows how quickly processes the post snap defensive front rotation. As the defensive end drops into coverage, his eyes go to the slanting defensive lineman working to the edge. He gets his outside hand inside the upper chest plate of the defender and his inside immediately controls the shoulder of the pass rusher.
The defender is unable to disengage as Tom controls his shoulder and stays locked on him. If a pass rusher can’t dip his inside shoulder, the rep is over at that point.
He also showed good balance and awareness of space as a traditional pass blocker, gets his hands inside, and almost never gives too much ground.
Where he needs to improve
He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes and the biggest knocks on him coming into the NFL are size and strength. The reps above show this as doesn’t often overpower defenders, a lot of whom will never play a down in the NFL. This could be a concern early on but he should be able to add strength in an NFL training program.
On the field, his biggest issues can be that he tends to overset a bit too much on passing downs, which leads him to have to make a quick recovery or results in no recovery at all.
Here versus Syracuse, he oversets too wide and too laterally, allowing the defensive end to swim over him inside. However, he is quick enough to recover and push the defender past the quarterback, but only because the quarterback gives him some help and moves away from the rush. This throws the timing of the play off and the pass falls incomplete.
Perhaps his worst rep came as he incorrectly anticipated the pass rush of the defender in front of him.
The NC State defensive front is aligned strong to Tom’s side but ends up slanting away from him. Tom jumps outside at the snap and the defender slants inside before beating Tom with a spin move over the edge.
Overall, Zach Tom is a very solid prospect for the Packers offensive line who will likely start out as a backup at the tackle position but should be expected to see some playing time in a position group that was not totally healthy last season. The status of left tackle David Bakhtiari is still up in the air as he did not practice during OTAs or minicamp and with head coach Matt LaFleur still non-committal on his practice status for training camp, which opens July 27th, Tom could find himself taking reps with the first team along with Yosh Nijman and Royce Newman.
That should give Tom some valuable experience in camp and in the preseason, though I do not think he makes a significant impact right away. He should develop quite nicely as a rookie though and will most likely compete for a full time starter role in 2023.