Jabari Zuniga | Florida’s Next Elite Defender

Talent has never been an issue for the Florida Gators defense as they reload and replenish each year. At this time last year we were looking at CeCe Jefferson and how he was going to breakout in Todd Gratham’s defense. Jefferson struggled while Jachai Polite came out of nowhere. Now both players are gone and the Gators need someone to step up and provide a pass rush. Jabari Zuniga has been able to provide some complimentary pass rush the last three years, but now is his time to shine. Here we’ll take a look Jabari Zuniga NFL Draft potential in this crucial year for him.

What Jabari Zuniga Does Well

The first thing that jumps out to you when watching Zuniga is his athletic ability. Zuniga can make explosive movements both off the line and to accelerate to make a play. A smooth mover, Zuniga is able to change directions and even use the ankle flexibility to turn the corner.

Against the run Zuniga uses his length and hands well to engage with the offensive lineman to keep their hands off his body. Zuniga then utilizes his quickness and agility to get off blocks and attack the ball carrier. It also helps that he plays with a good motor consistently chasing down the ball.

Where Jabari Zuniga Needs to Improve

While Zuniga has the athletic traits and motor to succeed he doesn’t show much for pass rushing moves. This can cause Zuniga to get caught up on blocks and not win as much as he should. If Zuniga wants to break out this year and be a high round pick, he’ll need to develop some type of move and not rely solely on his athletic traits.

Outlook

As the Gators transitioned to the 3-4 defense it forced the 6’4 257lb Zuniga to play out of position as a defensive end. While he was able to have success he would be much better served playing more on the edge. With Jefferson and Polite gone, maybe Zuniga will be able to move outside since he is their top pass rusher. But it’s crucial for Zuniga to develop a go to pass rushing move and a counter if he wants to be a first round caliber pick. Zuniga has the athletic traits, he just needs the technique.

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Image courtesy of Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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