Top NFL Draft Prospects: USC's Zach Banner is a big man with big expectations
Measuring a massive 6-foot-8 and close to 375 pounds, Banner's run game chops could make him a premium right tackle target for NFL teams
In preparation for the 2017 football season, NFLDraftScout.com will profile the top NFL draft-eligible prospects with a different player profile each day. The series will culminate with the preseason top-20 prospects in August.
Measuring at 6-foot-8 and close to 375 pounds, Zach Banner is the type of player who causes the goal posts to shake when he takes the field. The son of 1993 top-10 pick and 11-year NFL veteran Lincoln Kennedy, he arrived at USC as a five-star recruit and has started all 27 games the past two seasons, mostly at right tackle (twice starting on the left side). With incumbent left tackle Chad Wheeler also returning to USC, Banner is expected to stay at right tackle for his final season with the Trojans.
A mammoth human being, Banner has the naturally wide base and wingspan to slide and create a traffic jam in pass protection. He is a people mover in the run game, crashing down, latching on with his heavy hands and driving defenders away from the lane. While he carries a lot of weight, Banner is a fluid mover for his size, doing a nice job pulling and getting in space to take away linebackers at the second level.
Banner can be aggressive with his hands, but needs to be more consistent in this area, often relying on his shoulder and body mass to get the job done. He has heavy feet in his kickslide, and his upper body arrives before his lower body, which creates balance issues in space as he struggles to properly control his shuffle momentum vs. active rushers.
Banner is prone to mental mistakes throughout the course of games, with four false start penalties in the four games studied from last season. With his enormous frame and body mass, weight fluctuation will always be an issue that will require monitoring.
The list of humans on this planet who have the size and movement skills of Banner is extremely short, which is why he has been a productive blocker the past two seasons at USC and ranks as arguably the top senior tackle in the country. He has his issues in pass protection due to his heavy feet and high pads as flexible rushers are able to dip and run around him with athleticism. But his power to control the point of attack, especially in the run game, is what makes him a possible right tackle target in the NFL.
Scouts are hoping to see Banner improve his mental focus and overall consistency as a senior before stamping him with an early round grade.
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