What is any more common than the “sleeper OL” prospect in the NFL? NFL teams are constantly bringing aboard gritty, lunch-pail offensive linemen onto their teams from outside the first 2 days of the NFL Draft. And each year there are a handful of them that “come out of nowhere” to make rosters and even start regular season games. Enter Syracuse OG Zach Chibane. A road-grading 3 year starter along an offensive line that has churned out three 1,000 RB’s- and nearly a 4th- while keeping a clean pocket for star QB Ryan Nassib. Chibane is the definition of a “hidden gem”. Give his highlight video a watch and you will see a guy that explodes to the second level, and finishes blocks. ZBS teams…take note of Zach Chibane. His interview as follows:
Shaun DePasquale: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today Zach. Can you tell me where you’re training for the NFL Draft?
ZC: I’m training right here at Syracuse University, on campus, with our Strength & Conditioning Coach Will Hicks. There is no one better in the business. I’m comfortable here and working hard to keep improving on the basics. Just working on basic football concepts, and also working on speed, position-related concepts and explosion.
SD: What do you feel are your strengths and weaknesses (things you may need to work on)?
ZC: My strengths would be that I’m hard-working; I play every play; I’m fast, I move well and I have great explosion off the line. My speed and my explosion helps in the run game and I feel I use my hands well in pass-blocking.
Weakness, I can’t say I have a weakness. I’m not using that word. But things I am working on improving are my explosion on contact; rolling my hips better; and improving in knocking my guy off the ball.
SD: How do you feel your time at Syracuse helped you prepare for the NFL?
ZC: Oh man, it helped alot. (Head) Coach Marrone and (Offensive Line) Coach Adkins are great coaches, and they helped me develop both as a player, and a person. I owe alot to that coaching staff.
SD: What kind of offensive scheme do you feel best fits your talents?
ZC: A Zone Blocking Scheme. I’ve been in a run-based offense since high school. a 2-back, 22 personnel where we run alot and didn’t pass much. A fast-paced offense fits me well. Any kind of spread offense; pistol offense. I like quick pulling, and I like firing off the line and blocking downfield. I’m very versatile. I will pick up your playbook.
SD: Have you received any feedback from NFL scouts?
ZC: Yeah I have heard some feedback thrugh Coach Adkins. There is some interest. But I’m focused on getting better each day and putting on a show at Pro Day.
SD: What active NFL player would you compare your skillset to?
ZC: I would go with 2 players- NY Giants David Diehl and NY Jets Nick Mangold. Diehl is very versatile- he can play any position on the offensive line and very fundamentally sound. Mangold is smart, has a great head on his shoulders and I feel we have very similar personalities. He’s also a master technician.
SD: What has been your greatest accomplishment, athletically or personally ?
ZC: Athletically it would be winning the 2012 Pinstripe Bowl as a senior. Our team rushing for over 200 yards on West Virginia. Personally, I would say my achievements in the classroom. Making Dean’s List; graduating in 3 1/2 years. It shows that I can digest any playbook given to me in the NFL.
SD: If you could have dinner with any 3 people, living or otherwise, who would they be and
ZC: My first two people would be my grandparents. My grandmother recently passed away and my grandfather passed when I was only 3, so I would really love the opportunity to spend some time with them. The final person would be ANY NFL Head Coach or General Manager. So that I could sit down with them and pick their brain, and discuss how I could help their team.
SD: Is there anything that not many readers may know about you?
ZC: I played the defensive line until my junior year of high school. I didn’t receive any offensive coaching until my junior year.
SD: Who was the toughest player you faced in college?
ZC: My former teammate DL Arthur Jones. I had to block him in practice as a freshman, and he moved so well and was so athletic that he was just a terror to block.
SD: What message would you like to send to NFL teams about Zach Chibane?
ZC: Well every year there are late-round and undrafted free agents that make it in the league and everyone seems to wonder, “why wasn’t he drafted?” or “why didn’t he receive more recognition?”. Every year you see latter round or undrafted guys do well. If a team takes a shot, whether a team drafts me or picks me up as a Free Agent, I feel I am going to have that type of impact in the NFL. If a team takes a chance on me, they are getting a hard-working player who is tough. I started 38 straight games at Syracuse. I never missed a game, never even missed a play. I love playing; love hitting; love creating running lanes for my RB and a pocket for my QB. You can count on me to be a tough player, and great in the film-room- and the playbook. I’m a smart player- I learned multiple offenses and multiple schemes during my college career, and I fully understand defensive schemes & coverages. I am a ready-made player just waiting for my phone to ring and to go to work!
SD: Last question, what would be your first purchase with an NFL paycheck?
ZC: I would buy something for both of my parents, to thank them for all that they have done for me!
SD: Thank you so much for your time Zach. Good luck in your journey!
Please give Zach a hello and a follow on Twitter @Bane_75 . You can follow me on Twitter @ShaunDePasquale