26

April

Green Bay Packers Draft Matchup: DE/OLB Andre Branch vs. G Kevin Zeitler

NFL Draft Prospect Profile Andre Branch, DE/OLB Clemson

Andre Branch, DE/OLB Clemson

This decision comes down to need for the Packers. Do they take Andre Branch and fill an immediate need on the defensive front? Or do they select Kevin Zeitler and fill a likely future need at center or guard?

Usually I don’t pay much attention to the NFL draft, especially all the pre-draft hoopla, but this year the draft has sucked me in. I’ve watched video, studied scouting reports, and tried to follow the opinions of analysts I respect.

One of my favorite players to watch and learn more about has been Zeitler. He’s quick out of the gate when he pulls and a wrecking ball when he heads upfield looking for defenders to take out and pave the way for Wisconsin’s running backs.

Branch’s pass-rushing game is built mostly around speed, but what makes him even more attractive to the Packers is his versatility. He lined up in both a two- and three-point stance at Clemson and could move around the Packers defense if needed. He’s definitely a Dom Capers type of player.

If both players are available when the Packers pick late in the first round, I’d go with Branch, but it’d be a tough call. Zeitler looks like he has the skills to play right away and be an effective offensive lineman for a long time. Branch looks a little more raw.

I went with Branch because his ceiling is a little higher and the Packers have an immediate need up front. It’s always nice when you get a player you’re fairly confident will be solid for at least the next five years (Zeitler). But if you have a chance to hit a home run with a first-round pick, you swing for the fences. Branch’s ceiling is higher, his position is more important, and he fills an immediate need.

In other words, Branch has more potential to be a home run.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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19

April

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin

NFL Draft Prospect Kevin Zeitler, OG Wisconsin

Wisconsin OG Kevin Zeitler

Green Bay Packers draft prospect profile: G Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin

Player Information:

Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin
6-3, 322 pounds
Hometown: Waukesha, Wis.

NFL Combine:

  • 40-yard dash: 5.31
  • Vertical Jump: 29”
  • Broad Jump: 101”
  • 20-yard shuttle: 4.61
  • 3-cone drill: 7.77
  • Bench pressed 225 pounds 32 times

News and Notes:

Established a Big Ten record with 33 touchdown-resulting blocks in 2011. … Also totaled 142 key blocks/knockdown blocks. … Became the third college player since 1985 to produce two blocking consistency grades of 100 percent in the same season (2011). … Led all offensive linemen with a 97.23 percent grade for blocking consistency. … The top-rated guard prospect in the draft. … Occasionally practiced at center. … Penalized just three times in college career. … All-American and All-Big Ten Conference selection in 2011. … No major injury history. … Kinesiology major and lives in Waukesha, Wis.

What they’re saying about him:

National Football Post: “A good looking guard prospect with a thick trunk and natural girth through his base. Sits into his stance well, displays natural bend, can keep his base under him off the football and create an initial snap into contact. Isn’t overly powerful as an in-line guy, but creates good initial movement, works his legs hard through the play and extends his arms well into defenders.”

CBSSports.com: “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.”

NFL.com: “Weaknesses: Zeitler is a big man with heavy legs who at times labors to get moving when he needs to get out of his set and pull. His body control can be inconsistent at times, as he occasionally will whiff on linebackers. He is slower than desirable and is better off working in close proximity to his man to control the block.”

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • I like O-lineman that play as if they’re D-lineman. Zeitler fits that bill. He’s the aggressor on most plays
  • I wouldn’t want to get in his way on trap plays. He looks just fine pulling in this video.