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Zach McCloud

Preseason Scouting Notes: Zach McCloud, LB, Miami

Redshirt Senior | 6’2″ 230 lbs | Latana, Florida | April 2, 1998

 

A physical downhill gap defender who needs to work on his instincts and pass coverage

 

Overview:

Zach McCloud entered Miami as a 4-star recruit and started saw action immediately appearing in over 30 games from 2016-18. After a lackluster start to his 2019 season, McCloud chose to redshirt and take the year off. There were many rumors surrounding his unhappiness and a transfer in his future as of Fall 2019. While there has yet to be any updates on this, he remains a Hurricane and looks to take the top linebacker spot this year. Thus far, he has played all three LB positions in Miami’s standard 4-3 defense, but was not tasked with many pass coverage reps and was used almost exclusively as a two down run defender.

Strengths:

– Wrap up tackler with efficient technique and strong finishes
– Keeps momentum and balance while moving through trash
– Unleashes powerful punches and shows pad level when stacking blockers at the POA
– Gets through the line with savvy dips and power as a blitzer
– Plays bigger than his frame. Brings violent physicality to each opportunity for contact
– Above average short area quickness to charge downhill and quickly fill gaps

Areas to improve:

– Limited experience in man or zone coverage
– Extremely slow to read and react to developing plays early
– Struggles to get necessary depth in coverage
– Rarely had to make calls or adjustments for the defense
– Lacks the length to shed blocks consistently
– Often gets fooled and thrown out of position by options or runners bouncing in/outside

Injury concerns:

– (2018) Left wrist injury caused him to miss much of spring practice

Projection:

McCloud is a two down, downhill defender who will fit best to play Mike in a 4-3 scheme. While he has time at all three linebacker positions, he lacks the mobility, instincts and coverage ability to play as a Will. McCloud provides little positional or schematic versatility and will likely be a Day 3 prospect if not a PFA with high core special teamer potential due to his solid tackling and high effort.

What to watch in 2020:

There are some big holes on McCloud’s game and his career thus far leaves a lot of questions unanswered. With Shaq Quarterman and Michael Pickney gone, how will McCloud do as the leader of the second level of the defense? Losing two key starters is never easy, and as a fifth year player he will be called upon to do something he has shown limited ability to do thus far. With more responsibility and play time, how will McCloud perform in pass reps with his limited athleticism? McCloud will have high expectations this upcoming year and his response on the field to it will be vital for his 2021 draft stock.