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Houston Texans 2017 2nd round pick, Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

WolverineFan

Hall of Fame
Which is more reason to put him on the edge.
Edge defenders need to be mobile. Especially laterally. They are the force players and have to beat blockers to the outside and set the edge to funnel everything back inside. Look no further than John Simon. Undersized for a 3-4 OLB but had the requisite athleticism to get outside and set the edge as well as drop into flats coverage.

The further you get from the ball the more athletic you have to be. The last thing we want is Cushing hanging out on the edge and trying to beat a cut block from a slot WR. He struggled with cut blocks when he was healthy. Now he has bad knees and we want him taking on more athletic players in space? Remember Clowney trying to cover that RB wheel route when he was at OLB? Now imagine Cushing trying to cover that route.
 

xtruroyaltyx

Hall of Fame
Edge defenders need to be mobile.
Yes. Even kicker and punter require some mobility.

Especially laterally. They are the force players and have to beat blockers to the outside and set the edge to funnel everything back inside. Look no further than John Simon. Undersized for a 3-4 OLB but had the requisite athleticism to get outside and set the edge as well as drop into flats coverage.

The further you get from the ball the more athletic you have to be. The last thing we want is Cushing hanging out on the edge and trying to beat a cut block from a slot WR. He struggled with cut blocks when he was healthy. Now he has bad knees and we want him taking on more athletic players in space? Remember Clowney trying to cover that RB wheel route when he was at OLB? Now imagine Cushing trying to cover that route.
The reason you see a lot of converted DE's move to olb in a 34 and safeties going to ILB is because of the agility requirements.

Yes occasionally you have a play where an olb like clowney is on a rb on a wheel route but there is a reason that stood out to you....because it doesn't happen all that often.

ILB's are generally the ones you see in pass coverage as your olbs usually are rushing the passer or playing some kind of short zone.

Clowney, merciless nor Simon were the guys you saw downfield a lot. It was usually McKinney Cushing or one of the other mlbs.

There is a reason a guy like Mario can play OLB. There's a reason why people have wondered if Watt can step out there.

There is not as much change of direction at the OLB position. MLB's have much more responsibility in the running game and passing game and it's also not as many collisions at OLB.

Like I said, I talked to Ted Johnson, someone who has actually played in a Crennel Defense, and he agreed that Cushing to OLB could help make him a more effective player due to the loss of athleticism.

At MLB in a 34 you have sideline to sideline duties as well as middle of the field covereage. Need to be a lot more able to change direction and move in space. That's why this guy we just drafted is probably going to see a lot of time in the middle of the defense.
 
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mussop

Hall of Fame
Don't know if any of you guys are old enough to remember Ted Hendricks but man Cunningham reminds me of him. Very similar style of play. Not a head up smash you tackler but a wrap you up sling you down type. Hope he becomes half of what Hendricks was.
 

gs27

Veteran
Why is anyone talking about Cunningham playing as a 3-4 OLB. Mercilus or Clowney are playing weakside and the strongside is nearly always engaged head up by the LT or TE. Cunningham has some strengths, but disengaging from a LT to make a tackle or trying to push a play inside is not where you ever want him. He is a space linebacker and will play the large side of the field.

Cushing has decent upper body strength and being more frequently engaged protects him from cut blocks. Even after injuries Cushing is still much more agile then 90% of 3-4 SOLBs. The question will be his play strength against blocks, which I think will fall between Reed and Simon. Cushing is a pretty strong 255, not as strong as Simon, but stronger than Reed. I think he will surprise some on the outside and could find himself in another pro-bowl.
 

Lucky

Moderator
Staff member
Don't know if any of you guys are old enough to remember Ted Hendricks but man Cunningham reminds me of him. Very similar style of play. Not a head up smash you tackler but a wrap you up sling you down type. Hope he becomes half of what Hendricks was.
I remember Hendricks with both the Colts & Raiders. I was at a event during Super Bowl XXXVIII and met him briefly (Montana, also). Great guy who really seemed to enjoy being there and meeting fans. His hands were as large as I've ever shook. Felt like a kid shaking a grownup's hand.

Just the body type and movement skills, Cunningham reminds me of another old school LB, Jack Ham. I don't know if I see the same impact hitter or freakish instincts of Ham. But the size and suddenness are similar.
 

Number19

Hall of Fame
I really appretiate stories and memories like this. I'm the same age to remember those days and those players. Kudos.
 

Honoring Earl 34

Something Witty !
https://www.seccountry.com/vanderbilt/sec-networks-marcus-spears-names-zach-cunningham-toughest-sec-player-replace-going-next-season

“The heart and soul of the entire football team. Not just the defense. When you heard [Vanderbilt coach] Derek Mason talk about him, he gushed over Zach Cunningham, talked about the leadership, how many plays he made. That productivity and the guy leading your football team is now gone on to the next level. … I think this will be a tough one to replace.”
 

mussop

Hall of Fame
Why is anyone talking about Cunningham playing as a 3-4 OLB. Mercilus or Clowney are playing weakside and the strongside is nearly always engaged head up by the LT or TE. Cunningham has some strengths, but disengaging from a LT to make a tackle or trying to push a play inside is not where you ever want him. He is a space linebacker and will play the large side of the field.

Cushing has decent upper body strength and being more frequently engaged protects him from cut blocks. Even after injuries Cushing is still much more agile then 90% of 3-4 SOLBs. The question will be his play strength against blocks, which I think will fall between Reed and Simon. Cushing is a pretty strong 255, not as strong as Simon, but stronger than Reed. I think he will surprise some on the outside and could find himself in another pro-bowl.
Meh labels. I'm sure we'll find a way to have him on the field in our sub packages that we use 85% of the time. As far as him playing "engaged head up by the LT or TE." Well I'm not worried about that at all. That's actually one of his strength's. Watch some of his game tape. Dudes long arms give him the advantage in those situations. He's probably the best LB in this draft at disengaging from blockers and making a play.
 

Mr teX

Hall of Fame
Not impressed with this kid at all & i'm trying to see what everyone else sees. I know they got him for his coverage abilities, but if he's gonna be on the field for 3 downs, i'd like to see him tackling a bit better. Saw too much arm tackling...lunging & over extending himself; to me that's not sideline to sideline ability like some here are saying. rbs, TE's and many WR's are gonna run thru that on the next level. I'd like to see him get there & actually be able to square up & deliver the blow. Looks like an awesome special teamer to me.
 

mussop

Hall of Fame
Not impressed with this kid at all & i'm trying to see what everyone else sees. I know they got him for his coverage abilities, but if he's gonna be on the field for 3 downs, i'd like to see him tackling a bit better. Saw too much arm tackling...lunging & over extending himself; to me that's not sideline to sideline ability like some here are saying. rbs, TE's and many WR's are gonna run thru that on the next level. I'd like to see him get there & actually be able to square up & deliver the blow. Looks like an awesome special teamer to me.
Tackling a little better? I think what You mean is more smash mouth tackling. Thats not his style. He is a wrap up sling you down kind of tackler. Who cares as long as he makes the play?
 

SAMURAITEXAN

All Pro
Things that I don't understand about some analysts are saying he misses tackles. So, how many tackles he made besides misses? Combine with tackles made and misses, how many times he was there to make play? I love this pick.
 

JB

Old Curmudgeon
Contributor's Club
Things that I don't understand about some analysts are saying he misses tackles. So, how many tackles he made besides misses? Combine with tackles made and misses, how many times he was there to make play? I love this pick.
yup! I believe that I read somewhere (nope I don't remember where) that the reason he had so many missed tackles is because he got in position to get a hand on a guy he had no business being able to do that. He covers a lot of ground in a hurry, sounds good to me
 

Wolf6151

All Pro
I love this pick. Cunningham has length, speed, athleticism, and coverage abilities...what's not to like. It sounds like the Texans will start him out at WOLB, and I'll bet that he eventually moves to SILB and takes Cushings spot in 2018. I think SILB is where we'll really see his value to the team.
 

xtruroyaltyx

Hall of Fame
Not impressed with this kid at all & i'm trying to see what everyone else sees. I know they got him for his coverage abilities, but if he's gonna be on the field for 3 downs, i'd like to see him tackling a bit better. Saw too much arm tackling...lunging & over extending himself; to me that's not sideline to sideline ability like some here are saying. rbs, TE's and many WR's are gonna run thru that on the next level. I'd like to see him get there & actually be able to square up & deliver the blow. Looks like an awesome special teamer to me.

I don't think that he is the kind of guy that makes a ton of explosive plays that stand out on film, but he is impressive to me in how he operates in between the tackles. He rarely gets blocked and is almost always in on the play as long as it's in between the hashes.

He's not useless outside the hashes but he's no Ryan shazier.

Merciless was a guy that I didn't think looked impressive in college either. And he was not all that to me early on but This defensive staff has done wonders for him. McKinney has looked better since his first year...Simon showed progress....Clowney improved a lot....

Common theme is this staff taking players, young players, and making them better players. I've got a great amount of faith in the defensive staff.

This guy has a strong base and super long arms and he pretty much owns the inside hashes. I expect this staff to make him even better.

Personally if I'm the Texans I'd move Cush to the edge. Keep those guards and centers away from his knees, keep him from having to cover in the middle of the field and let him play downhill a lot more instead of laterally and having to change direction as much.

Put this young guy in the middle from day one and let him and McKinney grow in the middle together.

.......... Clowney Reader Watt........
Merciless McKinney Cunningham Cush


I'll put that from 7 against any in the league.
 

DocBar

Hall of Fame
Contributor's Club
I don't think that he is the kind of guy that makes a ton of explosive plays that stand out on film, but he is impressive to me in how he operates in between the tackles. He rarely gets blocked and is almost always in on the play as long as it's in between the hashes.

He's not useless outside the hashes but he's no Ryan shazier.

Merciless was a guy that I didn't think looked impressive in college either. And he was not all that to me early on but This defensive staff has done wonders for him. McKinney has looked better since his first year...Simon showed progress....Clowney improved a lot....

Common theme is this staff taking players, young players, and making them better players. I've got a great amount of faith in the defensive staff.

This guy has a strong base and super long arms and he pretty much owns the inside hashes. I expect this staff to make him even better.

Personally if I'm the Texans I'd move Cush to the edge. Keep those guards and centers away from his knees, keep him from having to cover in the middle of the field and let him play downhill a lot more instead of laterally and having to change direction as much.

Put this young guy in the middle from day one and let him and McKinney grow in the middle together.

.......... Clowney Reader Watt........
Merciless McKinney Cunningham Cush


I'll put that from 7 against any in the league.
I'm with you, as far as having faith in the coaching staff. Cunningham will be taught to tackle better. From all of the film I've watched of him, he naturally tackles high. He's going to have to correct that at the NFL level. Backs are bigger and stronger.
 

HOU-TEX

Ah, Football!
How much time will Vrable have to work one on with players now that he's the DC?
I've been wondering this myself. I know he'll spend time with them, but nowhere near the amount he's spent with them in the past. I don't recall seeing who the new LBs coach is going to be. Was it ever announced? I'm sure it was and I just forgot (gettin old)
 

bah007

Hall of Fame
I've been wondering this myself. I know he'll spend time with them, but nowhere near the amount he's spent with them in the past. I don't recall seeing who the new LBs coach is going to be. Was it ever announced? I'm sure it was and I just forgot (gettin old)
Assistant LB coach Bobby King was promoted to Vrabel's position.
 

76Texan

Hall of Fame
I agree with Mr Tex.

Cunningham was put in a position by his college coaches to be free to roam the field (not all the times, but often enough, similar to how Wade Phillips used Cushing.) Vandy has been building a solid defense for years; overall their players are well coached.

I don't see a great coverage guy either; just like I didn't see a great coverage guy when Cushing played at US and was used in such role at times.

Cunningham looks like a second rounder in his Jr year with potential due to his length and speed.
He likely would improve some more if he had stayed in school another year.
(He looked below average as a sophomore.)

Cunningham doesn't have the intuition of Kuechly (but not too many do.)
But he does have the tools and he's still young.

Hopefuly, Vabrel can unlock his potential.
But I do think that his slot in the draft is about right.
The rest is up to him.
 

Honoring Earl 34

Something Witty !
I agree with Mr Tex.

Cunningham was put in a position by his college coaches to be free to roam the field (not all the times, but often enough, similar to how Wade Phillips used Cushing.) Vandy has been building a solid defense for years; overall their players are well coached.

I don't see a great coverage guy either; just like I didn't see a great coverage guy when Cushing played at US and was used in such role at times.

Cunningham looks like a second rounder in his Jr year with potential due to his length and speed.
He likely would improve some more if he had stayed in school another year.
(He looked below average as a sophomore.)

Cunningham doesn't have the intuition of Kuechly (but not too many do.)
But he does have the tools and he's still young.

Hopefuly, Vabrel can unlock his potential.
But I do think that his slot in the draft is about right.
The rest is up to him.
How do you unlock the potential on a highly decorated SEC LB . The guy was highly productive and sometimes you guys are saying Cindy Crawford can't cook .
 

76Texan

Hall of Fame
How do you unlock the potential on a highly decorated SEC LB . The guy was highly productive and sometimes you guys are saying Cindy Crawford can't cook .
That's the job of the coaches.
If he keeps playing at this level, he'd never start in the NFL.

Watch the Georgia Tech game for example.
Ugly.
 

Honoring Earl 34

Something Witty !
That's the job of the coaches.
If he keeps playing at this level, he'd never start in the NFL.

Watch the Georgia Tech game for example.
Ugly.
No ... that's what you don't get . He was a first team all american and a two time all SEC linebacker . He's not like Davenport who was picked more on what he can be .

He needs to get stronger but you have to remember he was at Vandy where school is important also .
 

Mr teX

Hall of Fame
Things that I don't understand about some analysts are saying he misses tackles. So, how many tackles he made besides misses? Combine with tackles made and misses, how many times he was there to make play? I love this pick.
I don't understand why people pay attention to tackle stats...made or missed...especially as a MLB. Your stats can get inflated if you're run defense is trash & make you look like you're better than what you are.....see morlon greenwood & if you're a starter on defense in the middle, you're gonna have a fair amount of missed tackles...nature of playing the position.

What I look for in MLB's is what kind of pop they bring.....how well they shed...what kind of angles they consistently take...how quick they diagnose plays...and with all players in general, how fluid they are as an athlete. The kid sheds VERY well due to his long arms....but i didn't see him take very good angles alot of times & his play diagnosis was suspect to me to be honest....too many false steps & b/c his speed is just average, that put him behind the 8-ball if the play is headed outside of the tackles....which is why to me he won't be good in coverage. His pop was pretty good.........but i agree with Xtruroyalty.....that was mostly if the play was in between the tackles...outside of that, he looked average to subpar.

I believe the defensive staff will get the most out of him...I just don't know if he's the answer for us in trying to cover guys like a danny woodhead or darren sproles out of the backfield like many on here thinks.
 

Mr teX

Hall of Fame
Tackling a little better? I think what You mean is more smash mouth tackling. Thats not his style. He is a wrap up sling you down kind of tackler. Who cares as long as he makes the play?
When you get tired of seeing rbs, TE and WR's breaking his "wrap up and sling down tackles" let me know.
 

76Texan

Hall of Fame
I don't understand why people pay attention to tackle stats...made or missed...especially as a MLB. Your stats can get inflated if you're run defense is trash & make you look like you're better than what you are.....see morlon greenwood & if you're a starter on defense in the middle, you're gonna have a fair amount of missed tackles...nature of playing the position.

What I look for in MLB's is what kind of pop they bring.....how well they shed...what kind of angles they consistently take...how quick they diagnose plays...and with all players in general, how fluid they are as an athlete. The kid sheds VERY well due to his long arms....but i didn't see him take very good angles alot of times & his play diagnosis was suspect to me to be honest....too many false steps & b/c his speed is just average, that put him behind the 8-ball if the play is headed outside of the tackles....which is why to me he won't be good in coverage. His pop was pretty good.........but i agree with Xtruroyalty.....that was mostly if the play was in between the tackles...outside of that, he looked average to subpar.

I believe the defensive staff will get the most out of him...I just don't know if he's the answer for us in trying to cover guys like a danny woodhead or darren sproles out of the backfield like many on here thinks.
I agree with most of your takes.
But he doesn't lack speed.

His numbers at the combine and pro day came close to those of Demeco Ryans.

He's not as polished as Demeco in college.
However, remember that Ryans was about 5 months older (on their respective draft day.)

And Cunningham is taller, so he still has the chance to bulk up.

Like I said, hopefully, Vrabel and the coaching staff can get him to play with better techniques and help him to improve his understanding of how to attack.
 

steelbtexan

King of the W. B. Club
Contributor's Club
I don't understand why people pay attention to tackle stats...made or missed...especially as a MLB. Your stats can get inflated if you're run defense is trash & make you look like you're better than what you are.....see morlon greenwood & if you're a starter on defense in the middle, you're gonna have a fair amount of missed tackles...nature of playing the position.

What I look for in MLB's is what kind of pop they bring.....how well they shed...what kind of angles they consistently take...how quick they diagnose plays...and with all players in general, how fluid they are as an athlete. The kid sheds VERY well due to his long arms....but i didn't see him take very good angles alot of times & his play diagnosis was suspect to me to be honest....too many false steps & b/c his speed is just average, that put him behind the 8-ball if the play is headed outside of the tackles....which is why to me he won't be good in coverage. His pop was pretty good.........but i agree with Xtruroyalty.....that was mostly if the play was in between the tackles...outside of that, he looked average to subpar.

I believe the defensive staff will get the most out of him...I just don't know if he's the answer for us in trying to cover guys like a danny woodhead or darren sproles out of the backfield like many on here thinks.
^^^^
This

With that said, I think he went about where his talent dictated.

I thought the 1st rd/top10 pick talk was garbage.
 

mussop

Hall of Fame
When you get tired of seeing rbs, TE and WR's breaking his "wrap up and sling down tackles" let me know.
When that actually happens you let me know. There's nothing wrong with the way tackles. He'll be just fine.
 

mussop

Hall of Fame
Love how the critics have a built-in excuse. "He's not good, vrabel will fix him". He will never be a head to head crushing tackler. It won't matter. He will be an impact player on this defense.
 

Number19

Hall of Fame
Love how the critics have a built-in excuse. "He's not good, vrabel will fix him". He will never be a head to head crushing tackler. It won't matter. He will be an impact player on this defense.
Maybe Not at his current weight and strength. But his scouting report says his frame can take 10 or 15 pounds without effecting his performance levels. He's currently at about 235. At 250?
 

76Texan

Hall of Fame
Love how the critics have a built-in excuse. "He's not good, vrabel will fix him". He will never be a head to head crushing tackler. It won't matter. He will be an impact player on this defense.
So you don't think coaching is important?
 

sandman

Brexit Advisor
So you don't think coaching is important?
I think the point is more that here, just like every other MB, we pick apart every single little detail of our draft picks, usually in a negative manner. Based on some of the comments around here, one would think that the Texans selected a 7th round talent with a 2nd round pick.

And when he does end up playing well, the people who nitpicked everything will give all the credit to Vrabel for "coaching up" the kid.
 

Mr teX

Hall of Fame
I agree with most of your takes.
But he doesn't lack speed.

His numbers at the combine and pro day came close to those of Demeco Ryans.

He's not as polished as Demeco in college.
However, remember that Ryans was about 5 months older (on their respective draft day.)

And Cunningham is taller, so he still has the chance to bulk up.

Like I said, hopefully, Vrabel and the coaching staff can get him to play with better techniques and help him to improve his understanding of how to attack.
Tape over combine. His combine 40 say that he's faster than Cush when he came out....His tape doesn't show he plays as fast as though. The separation here is simple. Play recognition. Cunningham's play diagnosis needs serious work. Sure they'll be used differently, but go watch a heat seeking missle like Rueben Foster & then click on Cunningham's....the difference is pretty stark...at least to me. The good news is Vrabes and co. can help him improve in that regard...& i think they will. The bad news is I still don't think that's gonna put him over the top b/c that won't make him a playmaker, it'll just make him serviceable as a MLB...to top it off, i didn't see a whole lot of pass rushing skills...& given what the Texans drafted him for, that just won't cut it.
 
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JB

Old Curmudgeon
Contributor's Club
Tape over combine. His combine 40 say that he's faster than Cush when he came out....His tape doesn't show he plays as fast as though. The separation here is simple. Play recognition. Cunningham's play diagnosis needs serious work. Sure they'll be used differently, but go watch a heat seeking missle like Rueben Foster & then click on Cunningham's....the difference is pretty stark...at least to me. The good news is Vrabes and co. can help him improve in that regard...& i think they will. The bad news is I still don't think that's gonna put him over the top b/c that won't make him a playmaker, it'll just make him serviceable as a MLB...to top it off, i didn't see a whole lot of pass rushing skills...& given what the Texans drafted him for, that just won't cut it.
What did the Texans draft him for?
 

WolverineFan

Hall of Fame
Tape over combine. His combine 40 say that he's faster than Cush when he came out....His tape doesn't show he plays as fast as though. The separation here is simple. Play recognition. Cunningham's play diagnosis needs serious work. Sure they'll be used differently, but go watch a heat seeking missle like Rueben Foster & then click on Cunningham's....the difference is pretty stark...at least to me.
I disagree strongly with this. Cunningham has great instincts. One of his biggest strengths is his ability to diagnose and react. The difference between Cunningham and Foster is in the way they react. Foster attacks without abandon and that's the reason he is a blur on film (also the reason he is already having concussion issues). There is no subtlety to Foster's approach. It's very aggressive. Cunningham is more nuanced. He attacks but not in an overpowering fashion like Foster. He uses his length to keep OL from latching on and sets up in gaps to tackle or close off running lanes.

Foster's aggressive LB play looks 'sexier' on film because of the big hits it produces but it also has a shelf life (he already has concussion and shoulder issues and hasn't played an NFL down). With Cunningham's abnormal length for a LB he'd be a fool to use the same approach when he can use that length to keep blockers off of him and still make the play.
 

Mr teX

Hall of Fame
I disagree strongly with this. Cunningham has great instincts. One of his biggest strengths is his ability to diagnose and react. The difference between Cunningham and Foster is in the way they react. Foster attacks without abandon and that's the reason he is a blur on film (also the reason he is already having concussion issues). There is no subtlety to Foster's approach. It's very aggressive. Cunningham is more nuanced. He attacks but not in an overpowering fashion like Foster. He uses his length to keep OL from latching on and sets up in gaps to tackle or close off running lanes.

Foster's aggressive LB play looks 'sexier' on film because of the big hits it produces but it also has a shelf life (he already has concussion and shoulder issues and hasn't played an NFL down). With Cunningham's abnormal length for a LB he'd be a fool to use the same approach when he can use that length to keep blockers off of him and still make the play.
Well see, there in lies a problem. If diagnosing and reacting is one of his strengths , why is his reaction "nuanced" as you say & not as fast? If you see it, go make THE play....& he just doesn't make a whole lot of those & that's a red flag in my mind...he either doesn't see it as well as he should or you guys think he does......or is afraid of sticking his head in there.........both of which are problems. He just doesn't play to his measureables is all i'm saying. You can go & make the play & not try to lay the big hit like Foster does....
 

Mollywhopper

Facilitator
Staff member
Well see, there in lies a problem. If diagnosing and reacting is one of his strengths , why is his reaction "nuanced" as you say & not as fast? If you see it, go make THE play....& he just doesn't make a whole lot of those & that's a red flag in my mind...he either doesn't see it as well as he should or you guys think he does......or is afraid of sticking his head in there.........both of which are problems. He just doesn't play to his measureables is all i'm saying. You can go & make the play & not try to lay the big hit like Foster does....
So you don't think it's possible for a mlb to read, diagnose, and take a more measured approach to a play than diving in with your hair on fire?

Cunningham sees the play, he moves effortlessly, and he takes angles around blockers or sheds them with his length/leverage. Foster sees, reacts, and just barrels in like his brakes don't work. Both get the job done, they just go about it in different ways. If Foster's a cruise missile Cunningham's an eraser. I personally like Foster because I think an intimidation factor is a plus. This doesn't take away whatsoever though the immense amount of ground Cunningham covering is worth and the problems it causes offenses trying to account for his range and grip. He eliminates extra yardage and makes offenses earn every single foot. And I think his range against the pass is a bonus over Foster as well.
 

WolverineFan

Hall of Fame
Well see, there in lies a problem. If diagnosing and reacting is one of his strengths , why is his reaction "nuanced" as you say & not as fast? If you see it, go make THE play....& he just doesn't make a whole lot of those & that's a red flag in my mind...he either doesn't see it as well as he should or you guys think he does......or is afraid of sticking his head in there.........both of which are problems. He just doesn't play to his measureables is all i'm saying. You can go & make the play & not try to lay the big hit like Foster does....
Nuanced doesn't mean slow or ineffective. He just approaches his attack a different way. Foster is violent and aggressive. Cunningham is more measured and technical. He doesn't play out of control. He utilizes his superb length to keep himself clean from blockers.

And how is he not making the play? He was a unanimous 1st Team All-American as well as a finalist for the Butkus and Chuck Bednarik Awards. Had 50 more tackles then the next leading tackler on his team and twice as many TFL as any of his teammates. Led the SEC in tackles (Foster was 2nd) and tied 3rd in the SEC in TFL (Foster was tied 9th overall, 4th on his own team). All this while playing on a defense that had 0 other players get drafted (Foster had 6 defensive teammates get drafted; 4 in the first 2 rounds).

Not sure how all that qualifies as not playing up to his measureables. The guy just about beat Georgia all by himself.
 

76Texan

Hall of Fame
Tape over combine. His combine 40 say that he's faster than Cush when he came out....His tape doesn't show he plays as fast as though. The separation here is simple. Play recognition. Cunningham's play diagnosis needs serious work. Sure they'll be used differently, but go watch a heat seeking missle like Rueben Foster & then click on Cunningham's....the difference is pretty stark...at least to me. The good news is Vrabes and co. can help him improve in that regard...& i think they will. The bad news is I still don't think that's gonna put him over the top b/c that won't make him a playmaker, it'll just make him serviceable as a MLB...to top it off, i didn't see a whole lot of pass rushing skills...& given what the Texans drafted him for, that just won't cut it.
Tape over combine. His combine 40 say that he's faster than Cush when he came out....His tape doesn't show he plays as fast as though. The separation here is simple. Play recognition. Cunningham's play diagnosis needs serious work. Sure they'll be used differently, but go watch a heat seeking missle like Rueben Foster & then click on Cunningham's....the difference is pretty stark...at least to me. The good news is Vrabes and co. can help him improve in that regard...& i think they will. The bad news is I still don't think that's gonna put him over the top b/c that won't make him a playmaker, it'll just make him serviceable as a MLB...to top it off, i didn't see a whole lot of pass rushing skills...& given what the Texans drafted him for, that just won't cut it.
I actually think that Cunningham can be an effective pass rusher. They just didn't ask him to do it that much in college.

On plays near the LOS, he shows a good dip and plenty of hip flexibility to change direction.
With his long arms, he can get off the blocks very well.
He'll probably contribute on special team first while honing his skills as a pass rusher.
If Simmons can do it, Cunningham can do it better, IMO.
 

Mr teX

Hall of Fame
Nuanced doesn't mean slow or ineffective. He just approaches his attack a different way. Foster is violent and aggressive. Cunningham is more measured and technical. He doesn't play out of control. He utilizes his superb length to keep himself clean from blockers.

And how is he not making the play? He was a unanimous 1st Team All-American as well as a finalist for the Butkus and Chuck Bednarik Awards. Had 50 more tackles then the next leading tackler on his team and twice as many TFL as any of his teammates. Led the SEC in tackles (Foster was 2nd) and tied 3rd in the SEC in TFL (Foster was tied 9th overall, 4th on his own team). All this while playing on a defense that had 0 other players get drafted (Foster had 6 defensive teammates get drafted; 4 in the first 2 rounds).

Not sure how all that qualifies as not playing up to his measureables. The guy just about beat Georgia all by himself.
I hope you guys are right...i just don't see it...which is why i'm on the other side of this keyboard I guess.
 

xtruroyaltyx

Hall of Fame
Nuanced doesn't mean slow or ineffective. He just approaches his attack a different way. Foster is violent and aggressive. Cunningham is more measured and technical. He doesn't play out of control. He utilizes his superb length to keep himself clean from blockers.

And how is he not making the play? He was a unanimous 1st Team All-American as well as a finalist for the Butkus and Chuck Bednarik Awards. Had 50 more tackles then the next leading tackler on his team and twice as many TFL as any of his teammates. Led the SEC in tackles (Foster was 2nd) and tied 3rd in the SEC in TFL (Foster was tied 9th overall, 4th on his own team). All this while playing on a defense that had 0 other players get drafted (Foster had 6 defensive teammates get drafted; 4 in the first 2 rounds).

Not sure how all that qualifies as not playing up to his measureables. The guy just about beat Georgia all by himself.
I like the guy, but to be fair it's easier to rack up tackles when your teammates aren't as talented vs Foster who had to split a lot with his talented teammates.

Put just one more really good front 7 player on Vandy and his numbers go down some...

But by the same token he'd probably make more of those sexy impact plays if he had another guy to draw some attention.

---------------------------

The thing that impressed me most about him was how he Took on and got off blocks. Hes lanky strong. I'm having trouble thinking of a player comparison for him. He's like a heavier Richard Sherman playing LB.
 

WolverineFan

Hall of Fame
I like the guy, but to be fair it's easier to rack up tackles when your teammates aren't as talented vs Foster who had to split a lot with his talented teammates.

Put just one more really good front 7 player on Vandy and his numbers go down some...
That argument goes both ways though. Cunningham could rack up stats in a bad defense because nobody else could make plays but he was also the only player worth scheming against so teams could focus on him and know they were unlikely to suffer from it at the hands of one of his teammates.

Teams couldn't scheme against Foster and single him out like they could Cunningham because the Bama defense still had Allen, Tomlinson, Hand, Williams, Anderson, Humphrey, Fitzpatrick, Harrison, etc. to pick up the slack. Kind of hard to say Cunningham was padding stats on a bad defense when Foster was playing behind 3 NFL D-Linemen and with 2 NFL pass rushers next to him at OLB.


The thing that impressed me most about him was how he Took on and got off blocks. Hes lanky strong. I'm having trouble thinking of a player comparison for him. He's like a heavier Richard Sherman playing LB.
Lance Zeirlein compared him to Alec Ogletree because of his combination of athletic ability and unique length for the position. Cunningham is lankier/longer and more athletic but Ogletree is thicker and plays stronger. Personally I think he's very similar to K.J. Wright.
 

Honoring Earl 34

Something Witty !
I like the guy, but to be fair it's easier to rack up tackles when your teammates aren't as talented vs Foster who had to split a lot with his talented teammates.

Put just one more really good front 7 player on Vandy and his numbers go down some...

But by the same token he'd probably make more of those sexy impact plays if he had another guy to draw some attention.

---------------------------

The thing that impressed me most about him was how he Took on and got off blocks. Hes lanky strong. I'm having trouble thinking of a player comparison for him. He's like a heavier Richard Sherman playing LB.
I call this my Aikman vs Favre test .

I used to ask Cowboy fans what would happen if you switched the two . Would Aikman be a three time MVP ? I wouldn't think so . Would the Cowboys have won those SBs ? Yep ... maybe more .

How would Foster do without five guys in front of him who got drafted ? How would Cunningham do ?
 

xtruroyaltyx

Hall of Fame
That argument goes both ways though. Cunningham could rack up stats in a bad defense because nobody else could make plays but he was also the only player worth scheming against so teams could focus on him and know they were unlikely to suffer from it at the hands of one of his teammates.

Teams couldn't scheme against Foster and single him out like they could Cunningham because the Bama defense still had Allen, Tomlinson, Hand, Williams, Anderson, Humphrey, Fitzpatrick, Harrison, etc. to pick up the slack. Kind of hard to say Cunningham was padding stats on a bad defense when Foster was playing behind 3 NFL D-Linemen and with 2 NFL pass rushers next to him at OLB.


He was the middle lb. what are they going to do? Throw bubble screens all day? Block him with two guys on every play?

How were teams going to scheme away from the MLB?
 

xtruroyaltyx

Hall of Fame
I call this my Aikman vs Favre test .

I used to ask Cowboy fans what would happen if you switched the two . Would Aikman be a three time MVP ? I wouldn't think so . Would the Cowboys have won those SBs ? Yep ... maybe more .

How would Foster do without five guys in front of him who got drafted ? How would Cunningham do ?
I think both players would still have produced because I think both players are good.
 

TheRealJoker

Hall of Fame
I'm really excited for Cunningham to prove the naysayers wrong. Honestly surprised that there are so many people tearing him down overanalyzing the cons in his game. This guy was BPA on the board and a stud. He's going to fit into this defense like a glove and I am excited to see him help to elevate the best defense in the NFL even more this season and beyond!
 

xtruroyaltyx

Hall of Fame
I'm really excited for Cunningham to prove the naysayers wrong. Honestly surprised that there are so many people tearing him down overanalyzing the cons in his game. This guy was BPA on the board and a stud. He's going to fit into this defense like a glove and I am excited to see him help to elevate the best defense in the NFL even more this season and beyond!

I tend to like analysis, positive and negative, especially when it's backed up by actual football takes.

I think he's going to do well, but I get where me tex is coming from. He doesn't flash. Still extremely effective though.
 


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