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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 23 Wake Forest at Army

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2022 Green Bay Packers Rookie Preview: OL Zach Tom

In this week’s Packers Rookie Preview, Tyler takes a look at Wake Forest OL Zach Tom.

The Green Bay Packers are notorious for taking starting-caliber offensive linemen in the later rounds of the NFL Draft, and general manager Brian Gutekunst may have found another one in Zach Tom.

Tom was selected in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft out of Wake Forest. Playing primarily left tackle and center for the Demon Deacons, he is an exceptional athlete who fell in the draft due to his lack of size at 6-foot-4 and 304 pounds. But despite his less-than-ideal size for a tackle, Tom posted an impressive 9.59 Relative Athletic Score (RAS) with elite explosion, speed, and agility scores. When turning on the tape, Tom’s athleticism stands out far more often than his smaller frame.

The first thing that stands out when watching Tom is just how well he moves in space. With excellent foot quickness and lateral agility, he can get to his landmark quickly to prevent pass rushers from getting around him.

Going against Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson (who was drafted in the first round by the New York Jets), Tom stood his ground and stonewalled the first-round pick play after play. There were many clips from Tom going one-on-one with a top-tier pass rusher in the Florida State game that stood out because Tom’s footwork was outstanding.

I can’t emphasize enough how few offensive linemen prospects moved like this in this year’s draft class.

Because Tom can get out in space so quickly, pass rushers will try to cut inside when their initial outside move doesn’t work. That usually doesn’t work either, because Tom can chance directions on a dime.

Tom’s lateral agility combined with his football IQ allows him to handle any games being played in front of him. His awareness to recognize twists and stunts, trade them off, and then dominate his assignment made Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman’s job much easier last season.

One of the most surprising aspects to Tom’s game is how well he can handle a bull rush with a good anchor. When a pass rusher converts speed to power, Tom does a great job of kicking his legs behind him, driving them into the dirt, and using his lower body strength to stop defenders in their tracks.

Here are a couple examples of Tom’s anchor. Pay attention to how he jumps back to get his legs behind him to help him drive his heels into the ground.

Probably the only glaring weakness in Tom’s game is his lack of play strength. The Packers rookie struggles driving defenders in the run game by himself, but his technique and pad level are solid enough that he can be an asset on combo blocks to help creating rushing lanes with some help.

The biggest concerns with Tom’s game are his size and play strength, but the way that he moves and works his tail off in pass protection makes him a steal in the third day of the 2022 NFL Draft.

It’s still unclear what position Tom will play at the next level, but he has experience at both tackle and center. At the very least, Tom will back up Josh Myers, but don’t be surprised if he impresses in training camp and competes for a job with the starting five offensive linemen.

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