49ers make Fordham OT Nick Zakelj a 6th-round draft pick

Apr 30, 2022 at 1:02 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers selected Fordham OT Nick Zakelj with the eighth pick (No. 187 overall) in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. The 49ers acquired this selection from the trade of linebacker Jonas Griffith to the Denver Broncos in 2021.

Zakelj is from Broadview Heights, OH. He earned a pre-draft grade of 5.93 from NFL.com, which equates to an "average backup or special-teams player," per the site's 8-point grading scale.

At the NFL Scouting Combine, the 6' 6 1/8" and 316-pound Zakelj had a 40-time of 5.13 seconds, a vertical jump of 28.5 inches, a broad jump of 110 inches, a 7.75-second three-cone drill time, 27 reps in the bench press, and a 20-yard shuttle time of 4.71 seconds. His other measurables include an arm length of 32 1/2 inches and hands measuring 9 7/8 inches.

NFL.com projected Zakelj to be a fifth- or sixth-round draft pick.

Below is the NFL.com draft profile bio on Zakelj:

Zakelj (pronounced zah-KELL) was an All-Patriot League selection at left tackle each of the last four seasons. Conference coaches voted him to their second team in 2018 (11 starts). They voted him to the top squad in 2019 (12) and for the 2021 spring (three) and fall campaigns (11). He was also a team captain in 2021. The Ohio native played in nine games with eight starts (seven at right tackle, one at left) as a true freshman in 2017 before earning all those accolades. -- by Chad Reuter

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, who compares Zakelj to Josh Wells, wrote the following within his scouting report:

Decorated four-year starting tackle with NFL-caliber size and traits. Zakelj plays with strain and aggression. However, his block sustain and finish are occasionally derailed by modest knee bend and core strength at the point of attack. Athletic feet and reactive athleticism allow him to stay connected to outside edge speed or inside counters in his pass sets. Despite his foot agility, he is just average in getting three-techniques reached on backside zone blocks, but there is a noticeable pop into initial contact when coming off the ball and getting downhill. Field toughness, an NFL frame and pass protection ability give Zakelj a shot as a swing tackle with the potential to develop into a bigger contributor.

Joe Marino of The Draft Network wrote the following about Zakelj within his scouting report:

Nick Zakelj was a four-year starter at left tackle for Fordham and confirmed his skill set with a strong showing in 2021 against Nebraska and earned an invitation to the Senior Bowl. Zakelj is a tenacious run blocker that generates notable power and creates movement. He has a firm anchor in pass protection and his overall hand technique is strong in terms of timing, placement, and the compactness of his strikes. His hands can work independently and his overall package of size, power, aggressiveness, and hand usage makes him appealing. With that said, he has to clean up his weight distribution issues to avoid leaning and getting top-heavy. He also needs to embrace a transition to guard, where my concerns about his ability to reach set points, frame pass rushers, and elongate their path to the quarterback are reduced. His footwork in pass protection is choppy, which is a bad combination for how he distributes his weight. His lateral mobility is modest, which makes hitting backside cut-offs a challenge. Zakelj is a worthwhile developmental option that will benefit from the jump in competition but there will be a curve ahead of him to change positions and develop his footwork.


Height: 6' 6 1/8"
Weight: 316 lbs.
Arm length: 32 1/2 inches
Hand length: 9 7/8 inches

NFL Scouting Combine

40-time: 5.13 seconds
Vertical: 28.5 inches
Broad jump: 110 inches
3-cone drill: 7.75 seconds
Bench press: 27 reps
20-yard shuttle: 4.71 seconds

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