Everything You Need to Know About Bears Third-Round Pick Zacch Pickens
The Chicago Bears wrapped up NFL Draft weekend by making 10 picks. No, they didn’t fill every vacancy, but second-year GM Ryan Poles added potential starters and intriguing depth options to the mix. We’ll meet the Bears’ 10 draft picks, get to know a bit about their past, and where they project to go moving forward.
ZACCH PICKENS (ROUND 3, PICK 64)
• Position: Defensive tackle
• College: South Carolina
• Height, weight, hand size, arm length: 6-4, 291 pounds, 10 3/8″ hands, 34 3/8″ arms
If one is good, then two is better — right?
Pickens was the second of two defensive tackles the Bears chose on Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft. Like fellow D-tackle Gervon Dexter Sr., Pickens is an interesting prospect who should join the rotation early if things go well this summer. But Pickens and Dexter are intriguing for different reasons. We’ll discuss more as the post goes on.
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
- Above average arm length with quick hands.
This front office values size and length in its linemen.
- Winning first-step quickness in his rush.
Where Gervon Dexter Sr.’s scouting report underscored first step as a weakness, this appears to be a strength for Pickens.
- Early recognition and response to the blocking scheme.
Perhaps the Bears will let Pickens’ recognition skills shine without asking him to do too much thinking.
- Average frame.
I feel as if this is something the team can work on with him in the weight room.
- Unlikely to crank up an NFL-caliber bull rush.
Well, that’s unfortunate. However, based on the Bears’ depth chart, it looks like he’ll get ample opportunity to work on his craft.
- Elevated pad level gets his rush redirected.
This feels like an area where quality coaching can be useful. Good luck to Chicago’s defensive coaches!
Lance Zierlein’s NFL Comparison: Maurice Hurst
For those unfamiliar, Hurst was on track to being a first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Some prognosticators had him as a potential top-15 pick. But Hurst was unable to participate in the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine’s events after being diagnosed with a heart condition. That ultimately dropped Hurst’s draft stock and pushed him into the fifth round. But don’t let that comp scare you off. Hurst had some good moments with the Raiders, collecting 7.5 sacks, 7 tackles-for-loss, and 11 quarterback hits in 29 games (14 starts) in his first two years with the Raiders. I’d consider the Bears to be fortunate if they can get similar production from a third-round pick.
RELATIVE ATHLETIC SCORE
Relative Athletic Score grades player measurements on a 0-10 scale and compares them to their contemporaries. It is a unique way to give some of these prospects some more depth and perspective.
WHERE HE FITS
Potential to be a starter at some point during his rookie season, but should be a rotational contributor sooner rather than later.
This snapshot overview from Pickens’ draft profile is worth re-sharing:
Athletic interior defender with experience and length as a gap-control tackle but the quickness and play traits that might be better-suited to attacking upfield. Pickens has a disruptive first step that creates advantages for him as both a run defender and pass rusher. He plays with harmonious hands and feet to elude blockers or play off them, but he’s likely to get moved around by NFL drive blockers. Pickens has the ability to play both tackle spots in a one-gapping front and has rotational value with the potential to see starter’s reps.
It is easy to understand why the Bears were targeting Pickens with this selection. Clearly, there are tools to work with here. And, sure, there is stuff to work on from a development standpoint. But this is the kind of pick we could look back on being worth the dice roll if Chicago’s coaches are up to the task and can successfully develop this particular prospect.
The Bears are taking a risk in opting for the volume approach to fixing the D-line and passing on drafting Jalen Carter in the process. It is a calculated risk, to be sure. One in which the team tries to safeguard itself by drafting three defensive tackles on NFL Draft weekend. That all three have different skills, strengths, and weaknesses makes it all the more fun. At a minimum, it’ll make for a fascinating follow to see how these guys develop during training camp and throughout their careers.