Get to know Zacch Pickens: Q&A with the new Chicago Bears defensive tackle’s college coach

The Chicago Bears weren’t necessarily looking to double-dip at defensive tackle on Day 2 of the NFL draft. That’s just how it worked, and now they have a chance to rebuild the front with youth from the inside out.

The Bears chose South Carolina defensive tackle Zacch Pickens with the first selection of Round 3 (No. 64), nine picks after selecting Florida’s Gervon Dexter. While it could appear redundant, veterans Justin Jones and Andrew Billings are on one-year contracts and without future options at the position, the Bears almost assuredly would have been signing or drafting tackles next offseason.

Now there is hope Pickens and Dexter can develop alongside one another, not unlike what the Bears experienced with Tommie Harris and Tank Johnson in the 2004 draft.

Pickens had a career-high 42 tackles for the Gamecocks last season with 2½ sacks, and his disruptive first step offers hope he can boost the interior pass rush.

Jimmy Lindsey, South Carolina’s defensive line coach the last two seasons and now at LSU, spoke to the Tribune about Pickens’ development into a draft prospect. Here’s that interview, edited for clarity.

Note: This is part of a series of conversations with the college position coaches of this year’s Bears draft picks.

How did you see Zacch grow in the two seasons you worked with him?

His football IQ really increased tremendously. He learned football. He learned blocking schemes. He could come off to the sideline and tell me what was happening, and when we watched the tape on Sunday, it was correct. He became a better fundamental football player using his hands and working to get off blocks.

Zacch got a few team awards this past season. He was a captain as well as most outstanding senior, team MVP and defensive MVP. What went into him being honored?

He really grew. It was pretty cool to see him grow as a leader. The thing people are going to find out about Zacch is he is such a great teammate and person. Every day he walked into our meeting room, he would say, “How you doing, Coach? You good? You feeling right today?” And he cheered just as hard for walk-on guys who made plays as he did guys on scholarship.

Just a really good, unselfish teammate and he did all the little stuff off the field right. You never had to worry about him being late in the building or missing a workout or a tutor or study hall. I think that is why his play the last two years increased tremendously from the first two because he was living right off the field and he was invested on the field. All of that coincides together with becoming a good player.

What kind of questions did NFL scouts have for you about Zacch?

Just what type of kid he was. How did he operate? How did he learn? Things of that nature. What does he need to improve on? What is he good at? Things like that. Zacch was a good learner.

If a …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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