Meet Zack Wagenmann, a Missoula, Montana native and University of Montana pass-rushing phenom. The defensive end began these days of draft preparation as more of an unknown. However, with a strong outing at both the NFL Combine and his pro day, the first-team FCS All-American is looking like a potential steal in the later rounds of the upcoming selection process.
The New Orleans Saints have a handful of picks — nine to be exact. Head coach Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis are all about those diamonds in the rough, which Wagenmann looks to be.
He’s a passionate pass rusher full of energy, consistently producing for the Grizzlies in the Big Sky Conference. Of course, the level of competition at the FCS level doesn’t compare to that of normal Division I, but the talent of Zack Wagenmann is still undeniable.
The kid is no guarantee to shine at the next level, but if his promising abilities pan out, he could fit in well as a solid backup at the outside linebacker spot in a 3-4 scheme for depth purposes. He lacks the speed, size, explosiveness off the ball and functional strength to be a big factor on the line.
He does show great awareness and good football instincts though, giving him the ability to read plays, which could make for a viable option on passing downs. He also uses his hands well for the pass rush and shows great pursuit after quarterbacks with a good final burst after penetrating the line. And again, he did not disappoint at his rookie drills. Initially under the radar like Hobart offensive lineman Ali Marpet, who recently shot up draft boards, Zack Wagenmann was a top performer in several workouts.
NFL Scouting Combine measurables:
Weight: 247 LBS
Arm length: 33 1/2 inches
Hands: 9 1/2 inches
40-yard dash: 4.82 secs
Bench press (225 LBS): 14 reps
Vertical jump: 37.5 inches (top performer)
Broad jump: 109.0 inches
3-cone drill: 7.07 secs (top performer)
20-yard shuttle: 4.26 secs (top performer)
60-yard shuttle: 12.00 secs (top performer)
While he was selected as a first-team FCS All-American, first-team All-Big Sky and named the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year in 2014, Zack Wagenmann stood out prior to his senior year.
"2013: He started all 13 games for the 10-3 Grizzlies and had another outstanding season. He was ranked among the Big Sky Conference’s leaders in sacks (third, with 8.5) and tackles for loss (tied for third with 16.5). He was ranked 27th in the FCS in tackles for loss, averaging 1.3 per game. He was fifth on the team with 64 tackles. He tied for the team lead (with safety Matt Hermanson) with three forced fumbles. He was a first team all-league selection for the second straight season.He was given the Grizzly legacy uniform number of 37 (he previously wore number 58) by graduated two-time All-America linebacker Jordan Tripp. “Wags” was chosen co-captain on defense by his teammates, sharing that honor with senior nose tackle Tonga Takai. For the second consecutive season he was tabbed UM’s Larry Miller Award. Winner, which is given annually to the team’s outstanding defensive lineman.2012: He had a breakout season and was ranked fourth in the FCS with 1.05 sacks a game. He was sixth (tie) on the team with 50 total tackles. He had a team-high 11.5 sacks, and was second with 13.0 tackles for loss. He was named to three All-American teams: Associated Press (second team), Sports Network (third team), and Phil Steele Magazine (fourth team). He was a first team All-Big Sky pick.2011: He played in all 14 games.2010: He was named UM’s co-defensive “Scout Team Player of the Year.” He was a Griz redshirt."
This video highlights his pressure abilities against Eastern Washington in the second round of the FCS Championship:
The New Orleans Saints certainly won’t wait on a pass rusher until the later rounds. A first-round scenario is more than likely as that and a wide receiver are two of the more pressing needs. However, a shot in the fifth or sixth round is something to think about. Depth certainly doesn’t hurt, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Could Zack Wagenmann be Payton and Loomis’ next hidden treasure?
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