Senior Bowl Player Profile: South Carolina DL Zacch Pickens
On February 4th, Mobile’s game will be held at Hancock-Whitney Stadium and over a hundred of the nation’s draft hopeful seniors will descend on the Gulf Coast for a week of practice in front of scouts from every NFL team before the Senior Bowl. Leading up to the game, we’ll take a look at a different prospect every day and talk about their background, their college career, where they could be drafted, and how the Senior Bowl could help them. Today, we’ll talk South Carolina’s imposing defensive lineman, Zacch Pickens:
A native of Anderson, South Carolina and T.L. Hanna High School, Zacch Pickens was one of the most high profile, sought after recruits in the class of 2019. 247 Composite ranked him as the No. 1 player in the state of South Carolina, the No. 1 defensive tackle in the nation, and the 8th overall player in the class of 2019, only behind players like Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal. It was a relative surprise when Pickens elected to play for the Gamecocks over Clemson, but he was also considering Alabama, Auburn, and Florida State. As a senior in high school, he played running back as well, rushing for over 8 yards a carry on just over 100 touches.
Pickens was a true Iron Man during his time in Columbia, appearing in all but just one game throughout his four year career for the Gamecocks. Factoring in the rotation during his freshman year, Pickens saw increased opportunities as his career went on. He started seven out of ten games as a sophomore in 2020, then all thirteen games in 2021. His junior season in 2021 was his best statistically, logging 38 tackles including five for loss and four sacks. He had 42 tackles in his senior season this year.
While Pickens may not have been the superstar during his career the Gamecocks hoped they were getting, he certainly flashed a ton of potential and was an important part of the defense. In addition to this, he was a team captain and was consistently named to the academic honor roll, showing dedication to his craft both on and off the field. Check out some of his best plays from throughout his career at South Carolina:
Current Draft Projection:
The projection for Pickens is really all over the place. His former status as a top recruit makes me inclined to think that he has a better chance to go earlier rather than later, however. That being said, the consensus on him is really anywhere from early Day 2 to mid Day 3 pick. While scouts have been wowed by his athleticism, technique at the NFL level has been a concern and could result in him slipping down draft boards.
How the Senior Bowl Could Help Him:
Pickens is a talented prospect who has put a lot of good stuff on tape, but when you see that a concern on him is that he may be not as polished as a pass rusher as some, the Senior Bowl offers a great opportunity to be coached up on technique. The offensive line pool in Mobile is very deep, and Pickens gets an opportunity to go up against NFL talent and show scouts what he can do live and in-person. With such varied draft stock, the Senior Bowl is an absolutely massive opportunity for a player like Pickens. As they say, the draft starts in Mobile!