Three NFL Team Fits for Gators DL Jabari Zuniga

Demetrius Harvey

Over the past week we have reviewed the potential NFL team fits for two other Florida Gators - wide receiver Van Jefferson, and defensive lineman Jonathan Greenard.

Next up, is Greenard's 2019 partner-in-crime (when he saw the field), Jabari Zuniga.

Zuniga, 6-foot-3, 264-pounds, was one of the most versatile defensive linemen for the Gators over the past four seasons. While his 2019 campaign was largely cut short due to a lingering high-ankle sprain, his first three seasons of playing time throughout his career featured solid productivity.

In his career, Zuniga has tallied 116 total tackles, 33 tackles for loss, and 18.5 sacks. Zuniga played all over the Gators' defensive line, most typically lining up as the team's five-technique strong-side defensive end, with the ability to rush from the inside in sub-packages, making him the team's most versatile defensive lineman.

At the Reese's Senior Bowl in January, Zuniga told All Gators that he wanted to show NFL teams just how versatile he can be.

"I only played in five games, I played two of those games healthy, so I just feel like I have so much to prove [at the Senior Bowl]," said Zuniga. "I feel like I'm a versatile player, I want to show that I can rush from the 3-technique, I can rush and play the run from a 4i, a 5, a 9, you know, wherever."

Being able to play multiple positions is a major key during this year's crop of edge rushers and defensive ends.

Zuniga projects to land in the round four to five range in the 2020 NFL Draft, mostly due to medicals and lack of production in his final season at Florida. However, his impressive NFL Combine performance could cause teams to reach for him, with high expectations of an improvement of productivity with further coaching.

Zu senior 1 swipe

New York Jets

Fourth round: 120th overall; Fifth round: 158th overall

The Jets have a variety of issues along their defensive line heading into the 2020 season. In 2019, the Jets' accumulated only 34.5 sacks on the season with 6.5 sacks coming from safety Jamal Adams. The production was an issue to put it mildly.

Looking secure a potential stud along the defensive line that offers more schematic-versatility than several of the defenders the Jets currently roster, Zuniga could step in and get playing time quickly. While Zuniga has not shown much ability in the past of being able to stand up as an edge rusher, the Jets could get creative with his development.

In last year's draft, the Jets selected former Florida pass rusher Jachai Polite. While Polite did not ultimately live up to expectations, forcing the Jets to release him before the regular season, this should not hinder Zuniga's draft stock in the slightest.

Las Vegas Raiders

Fourth Round: 121st overall; Fifth round: 159th overall

The brain trust of Raiders head coach John Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock may fall in love with Zuniga's athletic testing numbers. At the combine, Zuniga placed second overall among edge rushers with a 40-yard dash time of 4.63 seconds, and a broad jump of 127 inches - the best among all edge rushers and defensive linemen at the NFL Combine this year.

For the Raiders, last season the team selected versatile defensive end Clelin Ferrell with the fourth-overall selection. With only free-agent signee Carl Nassib behind him, the Raiders will likely want to address the position further heading into 2020. Zuniga would fit nicely as a scheme-versatile player along the Raiders' defensive line, with the ability to apply pressure inside and out.

Both pass rushers Benson Mayowa and Dion Jordan are no longer on the team after becoming unrestricted free agents this offseason. And with new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli in the fold, Zuniga projects as an ideal target for the Raiders in the fourth of fifth round.

Baltimore Ravens

Fourth Round: 129th, 143rd overall; Fifth round: 157th overall

The Ravens feature a multiple-front defense, allowing their defenders to use their versatility to their advantage. Featuring a multitude of edge rushers and strong side defensive ends, Zuniga would paid well with the likes of defensive end Calais Campbell, and 2019 rookie third-round selection Jaylon Ferguson.

Ferguson is similar to Zuniga in that he can play both inside and outside in the Ravens' scheme, allowing the team to take full advantage of his pass-rushing capabilities, while also allowing for outside rushers to take some of the sharp angles away.

The Ravens have shown a propensity to acquire as much talent along the defensive line as they can. 

Thus far in this offseason, the Ravens have traded for Campbell, and we’re expected to sign defensive lineman Michael Brockers in free agency, however final terms of his contract could not be agreed upon and he has since returned to the Los Angeles Rams - leaving a spot open for a prospect such as Zuniga in Baltimore’s defense.

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