Justin Zimmer (DL, Ferris State) is one to watch

January 6th, 2016 | Written by Rob Staton

This week draft insider Tony Pauline threw a new name into the mix:

Everybody loves a sleeper come draft time and the name of Justin Zimmer from Ferris State has been quietly spoken about in scouting circles.

Unmentioned by scouts prior to the season, Zimmer posted 81 tackles, 13 sacks and broke up 5 passes this season. The thee time Academic All American who measures 6-feet/3-inches and a shade over 290-pounds, has reportedly timed under 4.8-seconds in the forty and completed 46 reps on the bench press last summer.

The hope is Zimmer gets a last minute invite to one of this months All Star games but draft junkies best start watching film on this dominant defender and keep an eye on his pro-day workout.

Nearly every year a small school prospect gets mentioned. I recall being underwhelmed by Brandon Williams from Missouri Southern State (a 2013 third round pick by the Ravens). Hobart’s Ali Marpet has just completed a very solid rookie season for Tampa Bay after being taken in round two in 2015.

As soon as you look at Zimmer’s tape, it’s hard not to be impressed.

You want to see a possible NFL prospect dominating against small school opponents. They need to look like ringers. In the video above Zimmer consistently explodes into the backfield, sheds blocks and works across the line to make plays against the pass and run. He’s seen hurdling a blocker at 290lbs, he’s disengaging blocks with ease and he finishes plays.

He looks like a terrific athlete with excellent power and physicality. What’s more, he’s doing it from multiple positions. He’s rushing the edge, he’s collapsing the pocket from the inside. On one play he drops into coverage and actually breaks up a pass over the middle.

Zimmer has excellent closing speed and when he works into space he’s like a magnet to the ball carrier. You see genuine evidence of him converting speed-to-power. He can swim and rip — and win with speed off the edge.

The only thing he might lack is great length. Watching the clip of him doing 46 reps on the bench (see below) — his arms look a bit on the short side:

This shouldn’t be a major concern as long as you’re willing to use him inside. At DE it’ll be a problem — you want to see length so he can keep a tackle from getting into his pads and driving him out of contention. Working inside it’s not the same kind of issue if you’re shooting gaps and winning with power and get-off.

Aaron Donald only has 32 5/8 inch arms. He ran a 4.68 at 285lbs and had 36 reps on the bench. Pauline notes that Zimmer is capable of a 4.8 at 290lbs.

It’d be great to see him at the Shrine game and possibly the combine. Ali Marpet made it to the combine due to some late buzz in scouting circles. If people in the league are talking about Zimmer — it’d be useful to see how he compares to the rest of the 2016 class.

He also seems pretty level headed. The only interview I could find is at the back end of this clip:

Knowing the Seahawks as we do — it wouldn’t be a total shocker if they looked at Zimmer as a possible convert candidate for the interior offensive line. Although he’s a much more refined pass rusher than Kristjan Sokoli.

He’s one to monitor going forward along with Southern Utah safety Miles Killebrew — who has already received an invite to this months Senior Bowl.

93 Responses to “Justin Zimmer (DL, Ferris State) is one to watch”

  1. Volume12 says:

    Love everything about this kid. Was blown away by his tape.

    Hoping we identified this year’s Kristan Sokoli before the pro day, combine, and SPARQ or NFR scores are all in.

    • matt says:

      Looks like he has a great chance at testing into the prestigious 3 sigma athlete club. Really want to see him get all star game and combine invitations.

      • Volume12 says:

        Me too.

        Keep in mind though, Seattle puts a ton of stock into prospect’s pro days. Moreso than most teams.

        • CharlieTheUnicorn says:

          They also like to see how guys prepare for the Senior Bowl / All Star game. How they handle themselves and are they professionals. This carries into the combine/work out and background checks as well.

    • troy says:

      A very intriguing prospect indeed, could be a steal and great addition that 3-5 round range. That being said, dare I say here’s my list of candidates and selected rounds in my Seahawk’s mock draft “predictions/hopes and wishful thinking.” I tried to include 3 potential prospects for each round just to offer some level of flexibility. But would definitely appreciate Rob’s as well as any and everyone’s insight.

      RD1

      – LB Jaylon Smith
      – OT Shon Coleman
      – WR Will Fuller

      RD2

      – OT Germain Ifedi
      – WR Tyler Boyd
      – LB Eric Striker

      RD3
      – OT Adam Bisnowaty
      – DT Vernon Butler
      – CB Artie Burns
      RD3
      – CB William Jackson III
      – RB Paul Perkins
      – OG Joshua Garnett

      RD4

      – WR Braxton Miller
      – DT Luther Maddy
      – $LB Miles Killebrew

      RD6

      – OT Jordan Swindle
      – DE Alex McCalister
      – K Roberto Aguayo

      RD7

      – WR Mike Thomas
      – OG Joe Dahl
      – DT Quinton Jefferson

      RD7

      – RB Tyler Ervin
      – DE Greg Townsend Jr
      – LB Ian Seau

      UDFA

      – QB Trevone Boykin
      – DT Darius Latham
      – RB Kenneth Farrow
      – CB Anthony Brown

      • Volume12 says:

        Not bad my man. BTW, we got a 5th round pick.

      • J says:

        If Dahl is there in the 7th I’d rush to the podium. He’s probs in that 2nd-3rd rnd range, IMO

        • troy says:

          I know I’m probably of the minority, but I cant help wonder how Colt Lyerla would contribute if given the opportunity on a roster such as Seattle’s(there’s many high character individuals that could mentor such a person). If he has reformed and put his checkered past in the rear view mirror I think such an addition would offer huge reward at a low risk cost. He has am immense amount to prove and I think often times a guy with such potential and ability when pushed in the right environment and having to exercise a bit of humility could turn out to become not only a very solid player but more importantly could demonstrate a incredible story of redemption.

      • CharlieTheUnicorn says:

        I loved Boykin as a fit in Seattle as the #2/3 QB… but with the serious charges against him and his ability to be a complete knucklehead… might have to pass on him, even as a UDRFA.

        I like Maddy as well, I keep thinking he would be a very good pick in the 3rd or 4th round.

        I like Fuller, but I think he might be gone by pick #31, so I tend to go with Cooper since I’m very confident he will be available at the bottom of the 1st round.

  2. matt says:

    Wow what an impressive highlight tape! Displays great balance and some bend to go along with obvious strength and athleticism. He runs down plays all over the field and doesn’t give up on plays. It’s impossible to gauge a consistent motor on a highlight tape, but Zimmer looks to be nonstop-will require more research to be sure. Fantastic looking 4-3 DT/3-4 DE prospect! Rare athlete at 290+lbs.

    Watching tape on Sokoli before last years draft it was clear that he was not a DT, and a high upside OL convert candidate. He basically just locked out the C/OG and watched the play, showing little awareness and no moves. Zimmer’s tape is VERY different. He looks the part of a penetrating DT who can collapse the pocket in our defense. The technique is raw, but there many impressive traits to work with. While Zimmer has the athleticism to be a OL convert I think he should stay on DL.

    • Volume12 says:

      Like Sokoli, I also think he goes in the same range.

      • matt says:

        We’ll see how the draft process plays out, it’s early yet. He could be a high riser if he gets opportunities to play in the Shrine or Senior bowl and show in the combine. If he shines he could be go as high as the 3rd round, where Marpet went.

        • Volume12 says:

          Possibly.

          The fact he wasn’t on scouts radars this year leads me to believe he’ll go later than Marpet, who went in the late 2nd.

          • C-Dog says:

            I think he rises if he shines in an all star game, gets a combine invite and shines through that process amongst other DTs in workouts. His tape his ridiculous. It’s like watching a 290 lb Bobby Boucher Jr (Water Boy) playing all over the D line. I really hope his on the Seahawks radar as a defensive lineman, and not a DL convert to OL.

    • bigDhawk says:

      That’s kind of the point of highlight tapes, though They are all the impressive plays. Because of this not much can be determined for sure, but he does seem to have a decent repertoire of moves at multiple positions. I need to see a full game tape to tell much else.

      • C-Dog says:

        Yeah, I hope he gets an invite to play in one of the all star games. It’s a pretty impressive tape. Seems to live on the swim move, but what I really liked was how he attacks whoever is holding onto the ball. Kind of explodes into them. Clark’s tape showed that, as well.

  3. Volume12 says:

    Rob, did you ever get around to breaking down Auburn’s Carl Lawson yet?

    I like him, but is his injury history worth it?

  4. rowdy says:

    Rob, sorry I missed you’re last post about fuller. I was wondering how much better does he look to you then lockett? Do you see him as a pro ready route runner and one of the best in the draft? I wasn’t the biggest fan of prich but couldn’t believe what he did in college as the sole weapon on Colorado. I don’t see fuller doing the same and with the hawks history I see a trade down if he’s their guy. I guess what I’m trying to say I don’t see a field tilting talent when I watch his tape. Do you have all 22 tape on him? Because all I can find is highlights on him.

    • Rob Staton says:

      There are some games on Draft Breakdown.

      I do think he’s a field tilter because his ability to make explosive plays is unmatched compared to the other WR’s in this class. Lockett for me was a different type of player. Perhaps more rounded, more honed. Fuller is essentially only a two-year starter after all. But his ability to get deep and kick through the gears is incredible. I think he’ll crack the 4.3’s at the combine. There just aren’t many people playing the game who can do what he does in the video I linked to yesterday. He covers so much ground. That in turn frightens the heck out of DB’s who give him a lot of cushion underneath (similar to Prich). He is a sudden, unique receiver with incredible upside.

      • Volume12 says:

        ‘But his ability to get deep and kick through the gears is incredible.’

        Those are a couple reasons why I like him so much too. Chunk play specialist/game breaker, and the ability to alter and sell his routes is very advanced stuff.

        • rowdy says:

          Selling his routes is what I’m looking for but haven’t found tape that singles him out to see it.

      • rowdy says:

        I’ll check out draft breakdown thanks.

      • rowdy says:

        I don’t see him kicking through gears though. He’s seems to just have two, full speed and stop. Watching stop and go is incredibly and special. He has made some good D’s look bad with his quick twitch moves

      • adog says:

        Not so sure about Fuller…seems a too predictable for this front office. On a side note I was the the episode of inside the nfl and I raised my eyebrows at the length Brandon Marshall praised the seahawk culture. I think he’s a free agent this year.

        • Rob Staton says:

          “Not so sure about Fuller…seems a too predictable for this front office”

          They’ve been pretty predictable in the type of players they want to draft early for some time.

        • Nathan says:

          1000 receiving yards for 5 different teams and a super bowl.

          That’s one record that will never get beaten.

        • CharlieTheUnicorn says:

          Marshall will want the ball and is not shy about wanting the ball. He has previously stated he would retire than play for another team besides the Jets. He has a good thing going in NYJ, no reason to move.

          • Nathan says:

            Nah it will never happen.

            He was pissing off his Chicago teammates last year because he was flying to New York for his media commitments, and they thought he was more interested in that, than the Bears.

  5. CHawk Talker Eric says:

    Hey V12 you asked me about Kylie Fitts. I vaguely remember him switching from USC to UCLA at the last minute. But he never got it together under Mora. I had pretty much forgotten all about him until the UCLA-Utah game this year. He looked good then. I just chalked it up to extra motivation vs his old team. Don’t really know much more than that.

    His stat sheet is intriguing, especially in light of what I saw vs UCLA.

  6. Clayton says:

    I’d like to offer a prediction: Seahawks QB Coach Carl Smith retires after the season, and his replacement becomes Steve Sarkisian. Sarkisian then convinces Pete and John to draft Su’a Cravens.

    • CharlieTheUnicorn says:

      I like your style. This makes sense on many levels, not the least of which is when/if the current OC gets a HC job/ or the boot down the road…. you would have a OC in waiting in Sarkisian.

      • C-Dog says:

        I think it’s a natural conclusion to think Sark could end up being a coach with the Hawks in 2016. I would be pretty into it if it weren’t for the thing that really makes me very uneasy, which is the $30 Mill suit he threw at USC after he got out of rehab. Just doesn’t sit well with me. Outside of the fact it looks classless, it reads that he’s looking to pass blame on others (something a lot of alcoholics and addicts instinctively do when they aware they have a problem and haven’t fully come to grips with it yet), perhaps still in denial, and makes me think he’s no where through all the things he needs to get through to get his addiction disease under control. If I were Pete, I would want to see 12 steps completed, and at least a year’s worth of sobriety before I offer him a position. Otherwise, I would pass.

        • CharlieTheUnicorn says:

          Pete Carroll knows him best. If he thinks he is an addition to the organization and would not be a distraction…. and Seattle has made it a habit of giving guys second chances (see Frank Clark)

          • C-Dog says:

            That’s a very good point. I trust Carroll would do his due diligence with Sark, if the job became available. I question how out of the woods Sark is right now. I think it would be solid for him to take a full year off from coaching, and get through all the things he needs to. I am sure he’s not hurting for an income. Carl Smith and Carroll go way back though, and there isn’t any indication he’s going to retire. If he’s privately been thinking about it, with Wilson’s surging play, he might even be rejuvenated to stick with coaching even longer.

            • CharlieTheUnicorn says:

              They could always make up a job, like offensive quality control coach… and have Sark around the organization while getting his life together. Not a bad move imo.

        • smitty1547 says:

          I agree and as well as the law suit needs to be put to bed before he comes aboard. Although i do tho=ink this is where he will end up to rehab career much Cable

    • lil'stink says:

      I understand why some UW fans like the idea of Sarkisian coming here, but since I don’t really follow UW I have to ask – how good of an actual football coach is he? I thought recruiting was his strong suit. He always struck me as being a petulant jerk.

      • C-Dog says:

        I think Sark is a pretty good play caller, and a good QB coach. In terms of head coaching, very difficult to judge it with everything else that has apparently been going on in his life. He’s talented, no question, but he might be the Johnny Manziel of coaches right now if he’s pushing for a job right away. Again, I think the suit he brought onto USC is a big red flag as to where he is as a person in recovery, but that’s just me.

        • lil'stink says:

          I only ask because it seems that during his last year at UW fans spoke of Sark in a similar love-hate manner of which Seahawk fans speak of Darrell Bevell.

          I definitely agree about the lawsuit being a red flag.

          • CharlieTheUnicorn says:

            I’m not a fan of UofW, but he did produce NFL quality talent from some less than 4 or 5 star recruits. Heck, several WRs on the Seahawks currently started CFB with Sark as their HC. His failing was his inability to get the 4 or 5 star Washington State recruits….. but his ability to work with guys like Bishop Sankey, ASJ, D. Trufant and others…. turn them into top shelf NFL prospects should not be overlooked. He schemed them up and they excelled (individually).

            • DC says:

              I am thankful to Sark for taking over a DEAD UW program and getting it back on its feet. I’m also thankful that he left and Chris Peterson has taken over. CP just strikes me as a much more detail oriented and balanced CEO. UW football is on the rise and will take down Oregon in 2017!

            • J says:

              ASJ was a 4* recruit and the 9th best TE in the country. I wouldn’t use him as an example of a guy that was coached up.

      • vrtkolman says:

        As a UW fan, I think he’s a bad coach. The “best player caller in America” stuff was just ESPN fluff IMO. When you watched the games he called way too many ill timed bubble screens and abandoned the run way too early.

        The worst attribute of his – he blew out really bad teams but was rarely competitive in the big games that would have elevated the program. I think he was a soft, lame coach and his players reflected that.

  7. Ukhawk says:

    Shon Coleman declares for draft

    • Trevor says:

      Good for him. Still hoping he is our 1st round pick and LG or LT of the future.

    • Nathan says:

      Wonder if we could Okung on a pay as you go deal?

      • C-Dog says:

        Probably only if he tests the market and finds it really cold.

      • Attyla the Hawk says:

        Don’t think you need a pay as you go deal.

        Seattle is going to need a 3rd OT. That player is going to play a significant role in the offense. Bailey has played quite a stretch.

        It’s also worth noting, that Gilliam is still green and still needs to improve his game. Now there is every expectation that could happen. He looks like a good prospect.

        But if he should falter, or if Okung gets nicked — we need to have someone to insert into the lineup.

        Seattle is probably going to offer a 3 year deal, with a mildly painful dead money number in year two and a low dead money final year. That’s been kind of typical for them.

        Resigning Okung to that kind of deal gives Seattle the ability to develop Coleman at a comfortable pace. Give him some work and let him emerge. This too is typical of how Seattle prefers to infuse talent on the OL.

        One might think that R1 is too rich to have that kind of player. But the reality is, LT requires a profile that generally requires a heavy investment. It’s easy to see how many LTs in college end up being moved at the next level. It’s very very hard to find LT prototypes that can succeed at the pro level. If you want a guy who you can be comfortable putting out there at LT, your options are very very limited in the draft.

        OT is the one OL position I can really bang the drum for using an R1 pick. And Coleman ticks all the boxes for the coveted LT duties. I’d have no issues taking him R1 even if we resign Okung. Because the expectation has to be that the backup will get some starts. Maybe a lot of them. Spending an R1 for a LT of the future and a critical backup in the immediate is worth it IMO.

        • Volume12 says:

          He’ll appeall to Seattle on a couple different levels.

          Seattle has always drafted prospects that have dealt with adversity early on in life and overcame setbacks or had to grow up early than most.

          I do think that’ll be the theme to his year’s draft. Ecspeciall when PC says ‘there’s value in that.’

      • John_s says:

        Absolutely they can in the way of per game bonuses. They did it with BWagz they can definitely do it with Okung

  8. cha says:

    Bucs fire Lovie Smith.

    • CHawk Talker Eric says:

      Chip Kelly to TB? They have history.

      • lil'stink says:

        Chip’s personality seems more suited to the college game/environment. I can’t imagine that his next job is as an NFL head coach. If it is, I doubt it will be one of sustained success.

    • CharlieTheUnicorn says:

      WHAT?! I like Lovie Smith. I always thought he was a good coach. They went 5-11 this year, but they were turning the corner on talent and were going to make the 8-8 step next season in my estimation.

      • Nathan says:

        I’m starting to wonder whether Sean Payton may still be on the trade block.

        Bucs FO, may have gone, ‘we’ve got the QB, now let’s coach that coach that deliver us the SB’

  9. Volume12 says:

    Rob, do you not like Colorado St WR Rashard ‘Hollywood’ Higgins?

  10. Old but Slow says:

    Some teams are way too likely to change coaches when things do not go well. Strong franchises seem to stay with a coaching staff through good and bad years, recognizing that some elements of success can not be programed, such as injuries, bad bounces and the like.

    In my opinion, a decent coach should only be replaced if he has lost the confidence of his team. If they still want to play for him, stick with him until he proves he cannot produce.

    Coaches can grow just as players do, and PC is a great example. This is his third go at the NFL, and nobody is better.

  11. Volume12 says:

    Stumbled upon this cat. Very intriguing as a sleeper.

    Yes, it’s a highlight tape, but all I could find.

    Shrine game invite Purdue CB Anthony Brown-5’11, 190 lbs. 2015 stats: 60 tackles, 4 INTs, 6 PBU.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dWFlVRHPEZU

  12. bryan says:

    this kid can def play. deserves a shot in the nfl this year. he is way to versatile to not get a shot

  13. Barry says:

    It’s sounding like injuries do matter. Especially to the knee if the word is true about Jaylon Smith’s injured knee having nerve damage. Could be just a rumor to manipulate his stock but obviously a bad turn for a talented kid if it’s true.

  14. CHawk Talker Eric says:

    I have another small school sleeper EDGE prospect. Grand Valley State’s Matt Judon, 6’3″ 255lbs. Winner of the D2 Gene Upshaw award, had the most sacks this season of any player at any level in CFB.

    This guy dominates the way you want him to against lesser competition. He looks like strictly an outside rusher, not like Zimmer who can line up inside. But I love Judon’s motor. He never, ever gives up on a play. And he’s much more than just a speed rusher. He has great diagnosis skills and is rarely out of position to make the play.

    This is a highlight reel, but there’s a lot to watch. Check out the QB hit around the 1:28 mark.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfL_l-0K9Vc

    • matt says:

      Running down plays 20+ yards downfield is great to see. Have to love the motor of Judon and Zimmer. No play is too far away to stop before the whistle. These guys have the want to. Can’t teach that. If Shawn Oakman had half the motor of these guys he’d be in the first round discussion.

    • Volume12 says:

      Judon has a great backstory too. He’s a very intense individual.

    • Attyla the Hawk says:

      Dude totally reminds me of Elvis Dumervil. His stature, strength, speed and demeanor.

      Literally he looks EXACTLY like Dumervil.

      • Attyla the Hawk says:

        Except for height. Dumervil is 3 inches shorter. Stouter. But movement skills are similar.

    • Attyla the Hawk says:

      I’d add though that Judon is not an unknown. Currently rated #10 DE prospect at nfldraftscout.

      I’ve seen his name thrown around on a lot of draft forums. Still an intriguing prospect

  15. franks says:

    Too powerful and too explosive for those guys… ragdolls everything in his way. Great motor the play is never over for this guy, he’ll bring his man down, force a fumble and turn 180 chasing it down. Rip and swim alllll day.

    His footwork looks choppy which says to me he has the potential to move smoother and faster.

    I’d love for us to land this guy. On the DEFENSIVE line. Don’t see much room for him to play at OL if Sokoli pans out and Novak comes around and it would be wasting his talent if he can make it at 3 tech. Especialy with Rubin coming to the end of his contract.

    • franks says:

      And if Sokoli and Novak don’t come around, which I’d be surprised, then we should start picking actual O-linemen.

  16. Volume12 says:

    Listening to PC’s presser yesterday, he basicallty mentions what they look for/like in DTs. Gap discipline and assignment sound football.

    Then I remember this guy. Florida St DT Niles Lawrence-Stample. 6’1, 310-315 lbs., and very Brandon Mebane like. At least a poor man’s version. Really like this kid as a mid round option.