In a tackle class that has multiple intriguing options after the top three, Zach Tom is a favorite of many. As a former three-star recruit out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Tom originally committed to Southern Mississippi before de-committing and signing on with Wake Forest. Since, Tom has been a staple on the offensive line for the Demon Deacons, whether that be at center or left tackle. He started 34 games at Wake Forest and had a dominant game against Florida State, where he kept future first-round selection Jermaine Johnson in check. As a result, many believe Tom is a diamond in the rough in this tackle class.
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Name: Zach Tom
Jersey: No. 50
Position: Offensive Tackle
School: Wake Forest
Class: Redshirt Senior
Weight: 304 lbs
Games Watched: Army (2021) Florida State (2021), Pittsburgh (2021), North Carolina (2021)
Major Injury History: None
Pass Blocking (11/15)
Tom isn’t the most consistent in his pass reps. He does very well at squaring up his blocks in the passing game and understands blitz schemes. Unfortunately, there are times when Tom gets whiffs as a pass protector, specifically against bendier pass rushers that can take advantage of Tom’s lack of length as a tackle. Another portion of his pass protection skills he struggles with is against bull rushers. Tom doesn’t have above-average strength, so he struggles to gather the defender and keep him away from the quarterback when met with a bull rush.
Run Blocking (9.25/15)
Tom is by no means a powerful blocker, which hurts him in the run game. He is more of a technician that can take advantage of alignments by the defense and wasn’t tasked with moving up to the second level very often in the Wake Forest offense. Defenders can shuck off Tom’s blocks in the run game with ease, and it isn’t a surprise to see him struggle with his lack of strength and length here.
Speaking of length, many project Tom to move back into the interior of the offensive line at the next level with limited length. Most tackles in the 2022 class have over 34-inch arms, while Tom only comes in with 33 1/4-inch arms. His wingspan is also about five inches shorter than the top tackles in the class.
Tom gets enough space in his kick step to keep himself within the pass rusher’s frame. He is quick and can cover ground quickly, which helps him recover easily. At times, Tom is engaged with a defender, his feet seem to stop moving, and he becomes almost stagnant while the pass-rusher moves him every way. It is a bit concerning, and it will need to be noted at the next level.
While Tom is consistent with putting his hands in the right position to stop opposing pass rushers, there are times when he gets them way outside the shoulders and can be called for holding. Tom can be a tad late on getting off the line of scrimmage from the snap, which puts him in a bad position to get his hands on the defenders.
Tom exited the combine with the highest RAS score in history as a center. Some teams will elect to move him back to center, while others may try him out as a tackle first. Tom had a 4.94 40-yard dash time, along with a 1.7 10-yard split and an elite score in the broad jump. The main reason Tom scored a 9.68 instead of a perfect ten on the RAS scale is because of his lack of height and weight from the tackle position.
Tom logged over 3,000 reps during his time at Wake forest. He split the time between left tackle and center, playing over 1,100 snaps at each spot and over 1,500 at left tackle. It will depend on how each team feels about where the best spot is to play Tom. Unfortunately, his lack of length could revert him into the interior of the offensive line, while his lack of strength could hurt him on the interior. It is a difficult position for Tom to be in, so teams will have to figure that out.
As pointed out already, Tom doesn’t have the greatest strength on tape and can get throttled back into the quarterback’s face by an opposing pass rusher. It’s a similar situation to what happened with Trevor Penning at the Senior Bowl, where he would get pushed back continuously by defenders into the quarterback’s lap. Thankfully, there are cases where this didn’t occur.
It was awkward to see Tom get called for so many penalties during the 2021 season because he is so technical. There were multiple cases of Tom false starting and getting called for holding due to his hand placement. The penalties will need to be cleaned up at the next level for him to get onto the field.
With so many across Draft Twitter, including Brett Kollmann hyping up Tom as a potential gem in the middle rounds of the class, the tape was a bit disappointing when watching the Wake Forest lineman. Tom is better suited on the interior of the offensive line, where he can use his athleticism to his advantage, as he made pulling from his tackle spot easy on a touchdown run in the Florida State game.
With the big game against Florida State and particularly Johnson, there is a bit of intrigue to Tom’s game. At only 22 years old, there is even more room to improve upon his weaknesses and figure out his best position in the NFL. Overall, Tom will likely start his career as a backup before potentially starting in a pinch situation due to injuries. At worst, Tom could be a sixth man on the offensive line, whether as a swing tackle or backup interior offensive lineman.
Rookie Projection: Backup Offensive Lineman
Third Year Projection: Potential Starter
Final Grade (72/100): Fifth-Round Pick
Player Comp: Chris Hubbard
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