By Zach Gransinger
Anthony Zettel DT #98 – Penn State
- 2014-Ohio State
- Very good motor
- Brings game to another level at goal line/4th and short
- Superior athlete at DT
- Very quick hands for slap/swim
- Great acceleration out of stance
- Extremely difficult to reach block
- Very good on slants
- Has 6-7 good pass rush moves including an elite spin
- Tends to stand up out of stance
- Trouble “feeling” screens and traps
- Needs to use his hands and punch more consistently
- When engaged, has trouble shedding block
- When initial pass move fails, tends to stand and read instead of counter
- Falls more than you would expect
Anthony Zettel was originally a 4 star and the 6th ranked defensive end by Rivals.com. He was first team all-state for Ogemow Heights high school in Michigan, and set the state record in shot put (a very impressive 61 ft. 8in). Zettel chose Penn State over in state rivals, Michigan and Michigan State, as well as national powerhouse USC. He made the switch to defensive tackle after his RS sophomore season. During my film study, I observed Zettel line up at the NT spot, 1 tech, 3 tech, 5 tech and even a 7 tech. His future is at the 3 tech, or possibly as a 5tech in the 3-4. Zettel is known as an extremely hard worker and intense competitor. Therefore, he was awarded the prestigious Jim O’Hora award as the defenses most improved player. The 2014 season was his first starting every game and it allowed him to put together an impressive stat line. Lining up all over the defensive line Zettel tallied 42 tak, 17 tfl, 8 sacks, 3 ints 1FF, and 1FR in thirteen games.
Zettel is undersized for a 3 tech DT or a 5 tech DE at only 278 lbs. He has shown the ability to add weight in the past and I think his frame could support another 10lbs. This would help him anchor in the run game, a place that he can struggle. Zettel bursts out of his stance with the explosion you would expect from a former DE. When he brings his punch Zettel can shock offensive lineman and drive them back at the POA. His hands are an anomaly; on passing situations he flashes swift slap and swim moves, but he often leaves his hands behind in the run game. Zettel instead tries to blow through the opposing O-Lineman or uses the “flipper”, he is surprisingly successful with this. This leads me to believe once he masters his hand placement he can be very successful. Zettel does a very good job of attacking one shoulder of his opposition instead of going head up. Zettel’s greatest weakness however, is that he stands up out of his stance far too often. This allows OL to get under him and drive him backward, a sight I saw consistently in the Ohio State game. Although very athletic Zettel does not have great balance and ends up on the ground more than you would expect. He has an incredible ability to get up field in a heartbeat and is nearly impossible to reach block. This comes with a downside though; Zettel is susceptible to the down block and rarely fights across face. Also he consistently takes himself out of the play when screens or traps come his way. Zettel is an exceptional athlete for a 3 tech. I even saw him drop into coverage and mirror a very athletic Rutgers QB and then force him to throw it away. He is so fast out of his stance that most times he overwhelms OG.
Zettel is excellent in slants and when he keeps his pad level low he will barrel right through his opposition. He is athletic enough to bend and turn the corner on a tackle and consistently beats guards on nothing but quickness. That is far from his only pass rush move though. Zettel displays a good variety of slap and swim combos, and uses the rip effectively. He adds a little wiggle to his move and will get heavy footed OG off balance and fly by them. He has the strength to collapse a pocket when his pads remain low and has shown a strong club move. He counters well once his initial move is stopped and won’t quit until the QB releases the ball. Zettel’s best move is a lightning quick spin that he sets up very well throughout the game. I witnessed him go in almost unabated vs Rutgers multiple times. Overall Zettel does a great job disrupting the pass game, he had five hurries, one hit and a sack on the Akron QB. Zettel is more than just a pass rusher, when it comes to gut check time he passes with flying colors. Against UCF he shows up on the goal line in a big way. In consecutive plays he dominated the point of attack, including one tackle for no gain. This is consistent on every tape I watch. Zettel seems to ramp up the intensity when it counts the most. His motor is very good, Zettel rarely quits on a play. He is a smart player that consistently keeps gap responsibility and even contain when the play calls for it.
Zettel is a unique prospect and based on a team’s defensive alignment his grade will vary. I think he fits best as penetrating 3 tech, but 3-4 teams could project him as 5 tech. Zettel has experience at both, but is most dominant in the 3 tech. As a 3tech 1 gap penetrator I see him fitting in as a 2nd , or worst case, 3rd round guy. If he cleans up hand placement and plays with more leverage and lower pads there is nothing stopping him from finding his way into round 1. This being said, I think 3-4 teams will see him as a 4th-5th round guy. He lacks the functional strength to control an OT and is best when using his quickness rather than strength. Zettel is a extraordinarily hard worker and I look forward to see his improvement in his senior season.