After a season leading one of the nation's top conferences in tackles, Vanderbilt's Zach Cunningham earned the NFL Draft early and could be a potential pick for the Washington Redskins.
Could the Washington Redskins for the second time in three seasons draft the SEC’s top tackler?
In his most recent mock draft, CBSSports’ Rob Rang has the Redskins taking Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham with the 17th-overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
“The Redskins surrendered an average of nearly 120 yards per game on the ground in 2016 and only three teams (the Chargers, Bills and 49ers) allowed more than their 19 rushing touchdowns,” Rang writes. “Cunningham, the SEC's leading tackler in 2016 and a two-time first-team all-conference selection. Possesses the speed and instincts to help shore up Washington's run defense.”
During his junior season in 2016, Cunningham became the first Vanderbilt player in school history to earn unanimous first-team All-American honors.
The 6-foot-4, 230 pounder was a finalist for the Butkus Award, given to the country’s top linebacker, and was a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, given to the top defensive player adjusted by the Maxwell Football Club.
Cunningham finished the season with 125 tackles (16.5 for loss) along with two forced fumbles and a pass defensed.
The Pinson, Ala., native recorded double-digit tackle totals in seven different games during the season including a career-high 19 tackles in a 17-16 victory over Georgia on Oct. 15.
Cunningham capped off his collegiate career with six tackles against North Carolina State in the Camping World Independence Bowl.
As a sophomore, Cunningham earned an ESPN.com first-team All-SEC selection. He finished the season with 103 total tackles along with four fumbles forced and three fumbles recovered.
Cunningham made his Vanderbilt debut on Aug. 28, 2014, recording a tackle against Temple. He finished his rookie season with two double-digit tackle games.