After four years of NCAA football, Penn State cornerback Alan Zemaitis is ready to take his game to the next level. He is one of the many prospects available in the upcoming 2006 NFL Draft.
Zemaitis has quite a bit working for him going into the draft with a good amount of positives for teams to evaluate. He was a factor for Penn State his entire playing career, logging some time as a freshman, and taking over as a starter in his sophomore year. It is not common for players to contribute so much to a team in a prominent football program such as Penn State, since they tend to have stockpiles of talent at many positions. In this case, Zemaitis stood out ahead of his teammates and was a mainstay at cornerback for three seasons. Zemaitis has been very good throughout his career in being around the ball on the field, as shown by his impressive 71 tackles and 18 batted passes in his sophomore season, as well as by his Big Ten leading six interceptions to go along with 10 batted passes in his senior year. His nose for the ball helped him excel in college football, and certainly scouts took notice when reviewing game tape. The cornerback also has good size for his position, being measured at 6-foot-1 1/4, 196 pounds at his Pro Day, making him capable of matching up with most wide receivers in the league.
However, Zemaitis weakened his stock after the season, performing poorly at his Pro Day. The numbers that hurt him the most were his poor times in the 40-yard dash, recording times of 4.58 and 4.56, speeds that are much slower than what teams look for when drafting cornerbacks. If he had been able to record a time closer to 4.4, which was what he was reportedly training for, he could have solidified his draft stock closer to the second round. Especially after not taking part in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, he needed an exceptional performance in the drill at his Pro Day to impress the scouts.
His 30-inch vertical leap does not match up as well as he would like with other cornerback prospects in the draft. NFL teams will question whether or not Zemaitis has the athletic abilities necessary to keep up with professional wide receivers and will worry particularly about his ability to run downfield with faster receivers. The last thing a prospect needs going into draft day is having question marks surrounding his ability to play with the pros. It is entirely possible that with just a few more pounds added to his frame he could be switched to play safety at the professional level.
Overall, Zemaitis' proven talent on the field may help him overcome his poor Pro Day results and should make him a first-day pick in the draft. However, he does not have many reported visits with NFL teams, just one with the Baltimore Ravens. The questions that have emerged about his athletic abilities are not helping his cause, but his nose for the ball will help him. Given his amount of playing experience in the NCAA, along with ideal size at cornerback, Zemaitis is probably a third-round pick at this point, but the potential is there for him to sneak into the late second round.
About Alex Resch
Resch has been a KFFL Hot Off the Wire Analyst since 2006.
Don't miss these great reports....