Released from Cowboys, here’s what TCU safety La’Kendrick Van Zandt had to offer

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The Dallas Cowboys appear to have done their homework on the safety position in the 2022 undrafted free agent class. We already have previewed one safety signee in Juanyeh Thomas and they originally signed another one. This one is more local to home, as they signed TCU safety La’Kendrick Van Zandt. Van Zandt is an experienced player and a versatile one, but apparently didn’t impress the coaching staff enough as he was released on Friday.

He played the Star role quite often for the Horned Frogs, in addition to being a nickel corner and a sub-package linebacker. However he did not fit the prototypical Dan Quinn mold of defender and that could have been the reason he was unable to latch on.

Measurables and Stats

Listed Height: 6-foot-1

Listed Weight: 206 pounds

Jersey Number: 20

Tackles (2021): 28 solo tackles, 38 total tackles

Impact Plays (2021): 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 pass deflection, 1 fumble recovery

Film Study Information:

Games Watched: Iowa State (2020), Texas (2020), Kansas (2021), Oklahoma (2021)

Best Game: Texas (2020)

Worst Game: Oklahoma (2021)

Physical Skills Evaluation:

Range: Ran a 4.45 40-yard dash which puts him in the 34th percentile, which brings into question is range ability. But he didn’t play as a center field safety at TCU. Played as a strong safety or in their STAR role. His 10-yard split was a bit better at a 1.56 which puts him in the 49th percentile.

Versatility: Spent time as a nickel corner and as safety in a dual safety scheme. Even saw him play sub-package linebacker.

Football IQ: Appears to have fairly good football IQ. Generally has a feel of how the play is developing before it actually develops.

Tackling: Willing tackler, capable of being the last line of defense. Takes good pursuit angles of the ball carrier. Doesn’t have the frame to consistently lower his shoulder and take on tackles.

COD skills: Has clean hips and it leads to good change of direction ability. Able to flip his hips and run without losing a step.

Physicality: Dont’ see many instances where he brings physicality to his game. Doesn’t take on blocks at a very high level and doesn’t get physical with wide receivers during the stem of their route.

Performance Evaluation:

Man Coverage: Can give up separation at the routes breaking point. Can get caught on double moves which leads him forcing to recover and can get called for pass interference in the process. Only measure in at 6’0, 212 pounds, but his arm length was 32 2/8” which was good for the 90th percentile, so that helps mitigate the size concerns. Can get caught flat footed, leading him susceptible to be caught out of position.

Zone Coverage: Plays better with his eyes back on the QB, so he can make a play on the ball. Does not allow receivers to get on top of him. Keeps his head on a swivel, looking for players entering and leaving his zone.

Run Support: Can fail to break down while in pursuit, and this leads to the ball carrier finding a cut back angle to escape his grasp. Appears to be faster in pursuit of the ball carrier than he is when moving freely in the open field. Shows a lack of effort and physicality at times when he is tasked with deconstructing blocks.

Ball Skills: Keys in on the receivers eyes and uses them to know when to turn and contest the throw.

Strengths:

Very versatile defender, used as a nickel corner, sub-package linebacker and in the STAR role. Plays better with his eyes back on the QB, so he is better in zone coverage. Willing tackler and has clean change of direction ability. Has plus arm length.

Weaknesses:

Lacks any sort of physicality to his game and it shows in man coverage. Does not engage with receiver during the stem of their route and can get caught flat footed. Fails to break down at times in pursuit of the ball carrier and does not take on contact well from oncoming blockers. Testing speed was not ideal, but he looks faster in pursuit. Was schemed away from being deployed as a deep safety, so I have questions about his range.

Fit with the Cowboys:

Van Zandt had the odds built up against him in terms of making the team. He likely would have had to spend time on the practice squad as he developed his man coverage ability and his physicality. He cans serve a multitude of roles in the league if he does develop there, as a nickel defender, in the STAR role or as a sub-package linebacker. He has the arm length to matchup with tight ends, but he lacks the physicality to hold up against them. He needs time in an NFL strength program to get the best use out of him.

The question now is whether or not he’ll get the opportunity with another club this summer.

Prospect Grade:

Range (15)

5

Tackling (10)

6

Versatility (10)

8

Run Support (10)

4.75

Man Coverage (10)

6

Ball Skills (10)

6

Zone Coverage (10)

6.5

COD skills (10)

7.75

Football IQ (10)

6

Physicality (5)

2

Final Grade:

58, 7th round player

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