Pros and cons of Panthers picking N.C State football guard Chandler Zavala in 2023 NFL Draft
N.C. State football's Chandler Zavala was selected by the Carolina Panthers in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL Draft on Saturday.
The pick marks the second straight year that the Wolfpack has had a player selected within the first four rounds of the draft, as Zavala was selected with the No. 114 overall pick.
The 6-foot-5, 325-pound offensive guard has NFL-ready size and the strength to match it. Before a season-ending injury in 2021, Zavala led an N.C. State rushing attack that averaged 172 rushing yards per game.
A rollercoaster of a college career that started at Divison II Fairmont State in West Virginia and ended with the Wolfpack saw the offensive lineman earn six years of eligibility after the NCAA overturned a medical waiver decision last May.
Here's what Zavala brings to the NFL.
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Zavala's size and strength served him well in 2022, as he allowed zero sacks and just four quarterback pressures all season.
In his four seasons at Fairmont State, he started in 20 games and drew the attention of Division I scouts before transferring to N.C. State in 2021.
With good size and above-average speed, Zavala has set himself apart with impressive pass-protection skills and good run-blocking instincts.
With the ability to keep defenders out of the backfield and move players downfield on run plays, Zavala positions himself as an explosive offensive lineman with the experience and skill needed for elite pass protection.
Missing the final seven games of the 2021 season at N.C. State, Zavala underwent season-ending back surgery and requested a sixth year of eligibility with the school, which was eventually granted.
While his strength is good, it's not elite, and he could struggle to hold off bigger defensive tackles at the next level.
With his extended years of collegiate eligibility, Zavala will enter the NFL at age 24.
Zavala has a big upside as a conditioned pass blocker and smart mover in the run game. Couple that with his prototypical size, and you have a valuable pass blocker with more than one area of expertise.
However, as is the issue for so many players, Zavala has yet to show that he can perform at a high level consistently. If he can avoid injury and utilize his speed and knowledge in the NFL, the Panthers will be more than happy with the lineman.