NFL Draft Profile: Florida EDGE Jabari Zuniga

Photo: Jay Metz/For UAA Communications

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The Los Angeles Rams are undergoing a defensive scheme and regime change. With that being said, former starting pass rusher Dante Fowler Jr. has departed via free agency. That leaves the Rams set to start either Samson Ebukam or Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. We still do not even have word on whether or not Leonard Floyd will officially sign with the Rams.

Here’s an edge defender in the draft who could be an option to slide into the Fowler role, Jabari Zuniga.

College Bio

Zuniga was a three-star high school recruit that redshirted in his first year at Florida. The following year he appeared in all 13 games while even starting three of them. His redshirt-sophomore season Zuniga started six games for the Gators. However, in his junior year, Zuniga became a full-time 13 game starter and was added to the Hendricks Award Watch List mid-season. The final year for Zuniga he was added to the Preseason All-SEC first-team. Unfortunately, he only started five games due to a high ankle sprain that cut his season and collegiate career short.

Measurables

Height: 6’3
Weight: 264

Strengths

Zuniga is an athletic edge defender that flashes the potential to develop into a potent sack artist. He’s stout against the run, does a nice job at stacking blocks and attacking the backfield. Solid tackler in the trenches. Possesses powerful hands that make for disengaging blocks. He’s got a variety of maneuvers in his pass-rushing arsenal but the rip move his forte. He is able to win outside or inside his assignment’s shoulder. When he’s on his game, Zuniga gets into a rhythm where he appears unblockable. His ability to win with speed off the edge and dip underneath the offensive tackle is impressive and can get even better. Play strength is adequate for his position. Versatility is a big part of his game as the Gators used him all over the defensive line, playing him at defensive end and even in a defensive tackle role here and there. High upside player and a lot of potential left to uncover.

Weaknesses

Zuniga’s biggest struggle is finishing. When you watch him on film you see his ability to get to the quarterback but he simply doesn’t finish the play with a sack enough of the time. As a matter of fact, as important as pressures are, his sack production is concerning seeing as he has to hope one of his teammates cleans up his mess. His inconsistencies are a concern as well. Zuniga simply put can flash and look like a first-round talent one rep and then a late day three talent on another. He tends to get stone-walled far too often off the edge. Limited to likely just a 4-3 defensive end as he has no experience as a stand-up pass rusher or one that can drop in coverage. His get-off is hit or miss. Will have plays where he explodes off the snap and others where he gets caught napping. He doesn’t always have a pass rush plan. Production and experience are lower than most in the draft at the position. Had a high ankle sprain that cut his final year short.

Three Plays on Tape

Development

Jabari Zuniga projects as a future starting 4-3 defensive end at the next level. He’s a fairly refined run defender with serious athleticism but has little-to-no use as a standup 3-4 outside linebacker. Zuniga will make his money rushing the passer and playing the backfield. He has a variety of moves in his arsenal as a pass rusher, he’s got the speed and power to win but he needs to build up his consistency. If Zuniga can improve his consistency and gain more experience since he only started one full season in college. He has a chance to be a quality starter at the next level. His lack of scheme versatility is concerning and could cause him to fall in the draft.

Draft Grade: Late 3rd round

Bottom Line

Zuniga is a non-scheme versatile player that is very athletic and has high upside as a pass rusher but has a myriad of things to work on. As long as Zuniga can build his consistency up he has a chance to be very good. Should the Rams take a look at Zuniga, it would likely be in a situational pass rusher and run defender role. He’s not going to be able to be a 3-4 outside linebacker if that is what Brandon Staley wants. However, with his combination of rare size and speed Zuniga might be a player the Rams just grab if he falls down the board.

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