Zeitler appeared in three games as a true freshman, and then jumped into a veteran line to start every game at right guard in 2009. After playing as a reserve the first four games of his junior year due to a pre-season injury, he regained his starting job for the 2010 Big 10 conference schedule and was named honorable-mention all-conference for his efforts.
There will no doubt be comparisons between Zeitler and 2011 third-round pick John Moffitt, and both players have the size, tenacity and mobility to play for a long time in the NFL. But while the Waukesha native may not be as big as his former compatriot at left guard, his lower center of gravity, agility as a pass protector, and consistency hitting targets in space could earn him a higher grade from some teams.
Pass Blocking: Anchors against larger defenders in the middle, resets hands to maintain distance. Athletic enough to help on nose tackle then pick up twist or late blitzer. Mirrors quick interior rushers. Looks to help the center, or even the tackle a few yards upfield, if he is uncovered.
Run Blocking: Good fit in a zone system, uses mobility and strength to move defender down the line. Dips shoulder and moves his feet to get outside leverage when needed. Strong and low coming out of his stance, effective in short-yardage situations. Finds the mike quickly and negates him when it is his responsibility. Gives effort to hit as many targets as possible, even if on the ground. Need to work on keeping outside leverage when doubling on the nose.
Pulling/Trapping: Good foot quickness working behind the line, though losing a few extra pounds around the middle would help his agility. Brings hips to knock back linebackers in his way, maintains block until running back finds the hole behind him. Gets down low quickly to defeat defenders trying to cut down running backs. Ducks his head at times, must keep his posture to see and sustain against his target.
Initial Quickness: Possesses adequate quickness off the snap to get his hands into defenders and attack linebackers at the second level, but is not elite in this category and can be a step late at times.
DownField: Regularly hits second-level targets, uses strong hands to latch on, and keeps legs churning to carry them out of the play. Knows correct blocking angles inside, gets into position with good footwork. Will punch at smaller defenders at times instead of latching on, allowing them to get off the block.
Intangibles: Dependable, no-nonsense mauler who works hard in the weight room and on the field. Did not start the first four games of 2010 due to a high ankle sprain suffered during the summer."
Displays very good hand placement, consistently is able to gain inside leverage and stick to blocks well through the play. Demonstrates above-average balance as well through the play making him tough to disengage from. Is also coordinated on the move.
Possesses good short-area quickness for his size when asked to pull from the backside, displaying solid range. Breaks down well and can hit a target off his frame and eliminate on contact. Needs to do a better job getting off the ball consistently in the pass game. Too often is one of the last linemen moving and will allow defenders to threaten gaps off his frame or get into his body.
Possesses natural anchor strength when he can get his hands on you, but when he’s late off the ball will get rocked on contact and doesn’t display the type of athleticism to quickly recover. Possesses average lateral quickness when asked to mirror.
At his best when engaged and showcases some shuffle and slide ability through contact with good hand placement. However, isn’t overly laterally gifted in space and will lose balance into blocks trying to get his hands on defenders and will overextend. Works well in tandem, sits into his stance well and can keep the pocket clean when picking up the blitz. Displays good awareness and keeps his head on a swivel.
Impression: A tough, strong in-line guy who you can run behind and also has some coordination on the move. Not as effective in the pass game, but can mature into an average NFL pass blocker if he learns to get off the ball more consistently. Looks like a gritty type starter early on in his NFL career to me."
Run Blocking: Better run blocker than pass protector. He’s got a thick lower body and it shows as a drive blocker. He was much improved from 2010 in terms of being a move blocker. I thought he looked smooth pulling and in the second level. He’s a solid technician that uses his hands really well. He breaks down in space better than expected. He doesn’t generate a ton of power off the snap and would like to see more pop from his initial punch. Excellent run blocker.
Bottom Line: Kevin Zeitler played on one of the top offensive lines in college football at Wisconsin. He is a little undervalued and should go somewhere in the latter stages of round two in April’s draft. He’s not a flashy prospect but wins with grit and toughness. Typical Wisconsin OL.
Draft Projection: 2-3."
Competitive, smart and assignment-sound — works well in tandem and is alert to blitzes.
Gets into blocks with urgency and engages as a run blocker.
Keeps his hands inside, but catches more than he punches.
Needs to get stronger, particularly in his legs, and play with more consistent knee bend, but is a big body from a school which regularly churns out NFL linemen, and Zeitler should work his way into a starting role."
Zeitler is an above average pass protector and run blocker. He does a good job keeping his pad level low and maintaing leverage throughout the play. His best attribute is his ability to lock on and control the defender. Zeitler's velcro ability makes it tough for defenders to disengage and pursue the football. He does a good job of creating a push in the running game. Zeitler also shows the foot speed necessary to mirror pass rushers.
The concerns surrounding Zeitler are minimual but some do exist. He needs to work very hard at maintaining leverage and inside hand position. Zeitler doesn't appear strong enough to make up for mistakes with his technique. At times, Zeitler will get his arms fully extended which impacts his balance and velcro ability.
Overall, Zeitler is a player that you can win with as a starter on your team. He is able to both protect the passer and open running lanes. Zeitler may not be as exciting as other prospects but he is solid and should be selected no later than the 3rd round.
Bold Statement: Zeitler will be drafted no later than the 3rd round
Games Viewed: Iowa ('10), Ohio State ('10), Michigan State ('10)
- Zeitler has good size and weight distribution w/ a solid base
- He plays with low pad level helping him in both the running and passing game
- His snap awareness is inconsistent as Zeitler isn't always the first off the ball
- However, he does have a quick first step which helps overcome the lack of awareness
- Zeitler does a great job of getting his hands up and inside the defender quickly
- His heavy hands make it very difficult for defenders to disengage
- Once he is engaged, Zeitler does an excellent job of driving his feet and the defender off the ball
- He works extremely hard to get inside hand position
- Zeitler has good quickness and is effective in space
- In the passing game, Zeitler has a natural bend is able to anchor after the initial contact
- He possesses quick feet which allows him to mirror the rusher
- At times, Zeitler's arms get to extended impacting his balance"
Not as effective working in space as he lacks balance and body control once he gets on the move; can anchor as a pass blocker and is fundamentally sound overall protecting the passer; very smart player; overall gives a solid effort in all aspects of the game, but isn’t necessarily great at any, but still has the look of a reliable NFL starter down the road."
Using great technique and blessed with a frame with long arms and strong base, he's tough in the middle.
Zeitler really gets after defenders and plays tough until the whistle. He's a multi-year starter on the interior.
If he can work on his reaction time off the snap, there wouldn't be much to critique in his game.
Most of his problems stem from the occasions the defenders gets his hands on him first.
When he can drive forward and lean into his block, he can manhandle his man and open things up inside.
As a pass protector, he does well to anchor and to hold his ground while absorbing the pass rush.
Improving his hand placement, which isn't bad by any means, will make up for what he lacks in athleticism.
His footwork is solid but since he is so strong in his lower half that he hasn't yet needed refinement."