UDFA Profile: TE Zack Pianalto

With the Bills desperate for TE help, can Pianalto make a difference?

TE Zack Pianalto-North Carolina

6’3, 255 lbs.

Pianalto is part of a new breed of TE’s that excel in the passing game, but are still learning the finer points of blocking and positioining as a TE. He is seen by many to be one of the most versatile options available having the ability to play the TE both on the line or flexed out into the slot, as well as being a capable H-Back who can line up in the backfield.

Pianalto is a very strong pass-catching TE. He displays soft natural hands which allow him to catch the ball out away from his body. He does a good job tracking the ball down the field and excels at understanding how to get open against zone coverage.

Pianalto is a hard runner once he has the ball in his hands. He gets upfield quickly and picks up as many yards as he can. He doesn’t offer much in terms of wiggle, and he won’t make anybody miss. Also lacks the speed to find a second gear and really pull away from the defense.

Concerns over his top end speed have led to concerns over his ability to gain separation in the NFL. Pianalto runs solid routes, but is not quick enough in and out of his cuts to get away from most NFL LB’s. He did a good job running the seam route at Carolina, but in the NFL it’s unclear whether or not he will be able to run that route successfully.

Blocking is probably the weakest aspect of Pianalto’s game and it’s not for lack of effort. He appears to be more than willing to try and block, however, his overall lack of strength and raw technique really hurt his efforts. He is able to be jolted back by bigger, stronger defenders, and has neither strength nor agility to stay with the block once this occurs.

Overall, what you see is what you get with Pianalto. He is a big target who could use some more bulk to his frame. He has good hands and could be a dangerous #2 TE who could catch a defense sleeping, but he’s likely never going to offer us much in terms of blocking. The Bills currently have a surplus of catch first TE’s so for Pianalto to make the roster he’ll need to show he can separate at this level.

Prediction: Practice Squad

What do you think of Pianalto’s chances? Is he a legit roster candidate or just a camp body?

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Tags: Rookies, Zack Pianalto

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