Miami-Crush Monday: Undrafted Rookie Zach Vigil Earning His Stripes
Once the starters left the field for Miami in their preseason game against Chicago, it was all downhill for the rest of the evening. The team was unable to score, and allowed 24 unanswered points in the second half.
You may look at that information and wonder, “What positives could possibly be drawn from that type of showing?” I’ll tell you a positive that can be drawn from that game: Zach Vigil, the undrafted rookie linebacker out of Utah State.
Usually undrafted rookies take a few years to develop the physical and mental characteristics required of an NFL player. It takes time to recognize the speed of the game, and to be able to adapt. Apparently someone forgot to tell that to Vigil. The 6’2, 240lb inside linebacker has already earned reps with the second team defense in training camp, and he showed the coaches they didn’t go to waste against Chicago.
Vigil was flying around the field. He seemed to be in on every tackle, and played with a drive that can only be mustered up by someone with a serious chip on his shoulder. It’s understandable for Vigil to want to show his abilities, as every team declined to take him in the NFL draft. The funny part of that? Vigil could be on this team way longer than some of the guys who had their name called by the commissioner in May.
Vigil appeared patient and well prepared. He did not over-pursue and miss tackles as many rookies do when they reach the NFL. It is not college anymore, and Vigil seems to understand that he should be more concerned about body position and group tackles than about making flashy hits in the open field.
There were no huge plays for Vigil in this game, which contributed to his winning case for Miami-Crush Monday’s first installment. Every single time there was a pile it seemed that Vigil was climbing out of it. Even when a player was on his way down, he made sure to help add onto the tackle. Vigil also displayed good technique, and wrapped up the player he was attempting to bring down. Another issue that plagues young linebackers is attempting to attack offensive players with arm tackles or simply with impact. Once again, that type of stuff flies in college, but not in the NFL. Vigil seems to have recognized this and adjusted early than most young players do when they reach the pros.
It is impossible to say that Zach Vigil is going to make this team based on one preseason game, but the odds certainly look to be in his favor. The Miami Dolphins are thin at linebacker, especially after the injuries suffered by Jordan Tripp, Chris McCain, and Koa Misi. McCain and Misi should be back soon, but Tripp’s injury appears somewhat serious. This opens up reps for the Dolphins’ young unproven linebackers, also including Mike Hull and Jeff Luc. While there is still plenty of time for these players to make their cases for a spot on the 53-man roster, it seems that Vigil’s argument is stronger than most after an excellent preseason debut. If he continues his consistent play, the first year undrafted defender could find a home for himself on the 2015 Miami Dolphins.
Tannehill looked great on his lone drive for the Dolphins’, leading the team down the field for a quick touch down. He obviously did the most for Miami’s positivity regarding the direction of the season, but one drive does not a Miami-crush make.
Jenkins made one of the best plays of the entire night with a fierce tackle for loss early on against the Bears’ starters. Jenkins continued to impress making his mark in coverage, but once again Vigil won out due to his play across a longer span in this game.
Big man doing big man things. Phillips was moving guys on the Chicago O-line, and showed flashes of why Miami picked him in the second-round. The only reason that he misses the top spot this week is that I generally feel second round picks should be immediate starters, and Phillips is yet to beat out Earl Mitchell. Phillips gets some leeway on this because he was drafted to a team with one of the league’s best defensive lines, but I am still waiting to see more from the young lineman.