Prospects

Prospects
Photo of Zack Follett
Zack Follett (OLB)
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 236
College: California
Conference: Pac-12
Hometown: Clovis, CA
High School: Clovis
Featured Prospects
Selected by: Detroit Lions
Round: 7
Pick (Overall): 26 (235)
Discuss
Pick Analysis: Follett may lack coverage skills, but he's a highly competitive player and loves football. He has tremendous work ethic and passion. He's going to play with great intensity and could be a good special teams player for the Lions. He was highly productive in college but did have injury concerns on his shoulder.
  1. Overview
  2. Analysis
Overview

Ask any Pac-10 Conference quarterback to name the hardest hitting tackler in the league and they will sound like a choir in singing praises for Follett. A versatile defender, he began his Cal career as a middle linebacker, shifting to weak-side outside linebacker as a sophomore before finding a home on the strong side his junior campaign.


One of the more colorful characters on the squad, Follett spent much of 2007 with a hair dye job featuring tiger/lion stripes (artwork courtesy of Greg Van Hoesen), earning himself the nickname "Ziger" for the "Z" dyed into the back of his head amongst the stripes. Even though the hair went back to normal for the final five games, the "Ziger" mentality remained. He is also an accomplished artist, as he has a wood-cutting hobby in which he has shaped plywood into life size replicas of teammates.


While his off-field exploits have kept the locker room loose, on the field Follett is all business. He closed out his career 10th on the school's tackle list with 245 hits, as his 13 forced fumbles set the school all-time record and tied the Pac-10 Conference mark. He also placed fifth in Cal annals with 51.0 stops behind the line of scrimmage that included 23.5 sacks, the sixth-best career total by a Golden Bears defender.


Follett was rated the ninth-best inside linebacker in the country by Tom Lemming's Prep Football Report during his senior year at Clovis High School. Rivals.com rated him the 11th-best inside linebacker in the country and 41st-best overall prospect in the state of California. He was named to The Fresno Bee's All-Valley first-team and chosen the Tri River Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year during his final campaign.


That year, the first-team All-State choice recorded 135 tackles, nine quarterback pressures, seven tackles for loss, seven forced fumbles, five passes broken up, four fumble recoveries and three sacks. As a junior, he only played into halftime of the team's third game before a foot fracture would sideline him the rest of the season. He still managed to register 74 tackles and return an interception for a touchdown.


As a sophomore, Follett was named All-Area and All-League first-team. He delivered 151 tackles, 13 for loss, four forced fumbles, two sacks and two interceptions. For his career, he registered 360 tackles, 28 behind the line of scrimmage, 13 forced fumbles and seven sacks in his three seasons. After his senior season, he competed in the Cali-Florida Bowl.


Follett enrolled at California in 2005 and made an immediate impact as a true freshman. Even though Desmond Bishop started ahead of him at middle linebacker, the Freshman All-American first-team choice recorded 32 tackles (25 solos) with a pair of sacks, three stops for loss and two fumbles in 12 contests.


As a sophomore, he appeared in 13 games, but even though he started just once at weak-side linebacker, he totaled 62 tackles (34 solos) and led the squad with 5.5 sacks, 12.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage and four forced fumbles. He also broke up a pair of passes and had the only interception for his career, picking up All-Pac 10 Conference honorable mention for his efforts.


Follett missed three games due to a neck stinger, but was still named to the All-Pac 10 Conference second-team as a junior. He registered 64 tackles (39 solos) to go with a team-high 5.5 sacks and 12.5 stops for loss. He caused two fumbles, recovered another and broke up six passes while starting 10 games at strong-side linebacker.


As a senior, Follett was a semi-finalist for the Bednarik Award and named the team's Defensive MVP. The All-Pac 10 Conference first-team choice led the league and ranked third in the nation with a career-high 23.0 tackles for loss, the third-best season total in Cal annals. His 10.5 sacks led the Bears and placed tied for eighth on the school single-season record list. He also generated 87 tackles (58 solos), second on the squad, as he led the Pac-10 with five forced fumbles.


High School

Attended Clovis (Cal.) High School, where he was rated the ninth-best inside linebacker in the country by Tom Lemming's Prep Football Report during his senior year...Rivals.com rated him the 11th-best inside linebacker in the country and 41st-best overall prospect in the state of California...Named to The Fresno Bee's All-Valley first-team and chosen the Tri River Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year during his final campaign...That year, the first-team All-State choice recorded 135 tackles, nine quarterback pressures, seven tackles for loss, seven forced fumbles, five passes broken up, four fumble recoveries and three sacks...As a junior, he only played into halftime of the team's third game before a foot fracture would sideline him the rest of the season. He still managed to register 74 tackles and return an interception for a touchdown...As a sophomore, Follett was named All-Area and All-League first-team, as he delivered 151 tackles, 13 for loss, four forced fumbles, two sacks and two interceptions...For his career, he registered 360 tackles, 28 behind the line of scrimmage, 13 forced fumbles and seven sacks in his three seasons...After his senior season, he competed in the Cali-Florida Bowl.


Copyright NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange.

Analysis

Positives: Broad frame with the room for an additional 10-15 pounds of muscle mass. ... Improved play recognition as he gained experience. ... Plays with reckless abandon on every snap. ... Forcefully takes on blocks with an impressive pop that can gain him the separation he needs to make big plays behind the line of scrimmage. ... Downhill defender who can explode into the ballcarrier and has forced eight fumbles over his career, despite only emerging as a full-time starter in 2007. ... Looks to intimidate his opponent. ... Reads the quarterback's eyes and will break on the ball.


Negatives: Relies on his aggression and physicality to make the play. ... Inconsistent in his reads. ... Will take false steps and can be beaten over the top by play-action. ... At his best coming off the edge as a pass rusher, but showed only marginal technique when facing athletic pass blockers who could absorb his initial charge as a pass rusher. ... Only flashes the lateral quickness to evade blockers. ... Tackled with his head down too often in 2007, leading to some missed tackles and, more important, putting his spinal cord at risk. Follett missed nearly three games in 2007 due to a neck stinger.


Compares To: LARRY IZZO, New York Jets -- Like Izzo, Follett plays like a UFC champion - packs a wallop, but boy can he get out of control. He will at least buy himself time in the NFL based on his stellar special teams play and also as a situational player to disrupt the backfield, but there are a lot of holes in his game, especially in pass coverage. He will likely be on the draft board much longer than most experts predict.


Injury Report

2002: Only played into the fourth game of his high school junior season before missing the rest of the year with a fractured bone in his foot.


2007: Missed the second half of the Louisiana Tech game (9/15) with a neck stinger that kept him out of the Arizona (9/22), Oregon (9/29) and Oregon State (10/13) games before returning for reserve duty vs. UCLA (10/20).


2009: Could not complete agility tests at the NFL Combine due to a pectoral muscle injury.


Copyright NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange.

NFL News
CONTENT
15