For the last four years, the Texas Longhorns have benefited from a steady presence on the interior of the offensive line — center Zach Shackelford.
Voted a team captain in 2019, Shackelford started 40 of the 43 games in which he appeared over his four seasons in Austin after winning the starting job as an early enrollee in 2016.
During that time, Shackelford dealt with multiple foot issues, including several high ankle sprains as a freshman, so there is some concern about his long-term durability, but there aren’t any questions about his ability to play through pain.
Since Shackelford wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine and the Texas Pro Day was canceled, he put together a virtual Pro Day through his agent. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Shackelford was happy with his 1.75 10-yard split, but his 5.4 40-yard dash demonstrated some of his athletic limitations.
On the bench press, Shackelford put up 33 reps, better than many of the offensive linemen who participated in the NFL Combine. However, that strength didn’t show up enough on film for Shackelford — he doesn’t consistently create displacement with his punch and struggles at times to anchor in pass protection against more powerful defenders. A lack of ideal arm length likely contributed to those issues, in addition to limited lower body strength.
Snap consistency was also an issue for Shackelford over his career, so it’s possible that he could provide more value at guard if he can’t fix those problems when he gets to training camp. Unfortunately for Shackelford’s professional prospects, his strength limitations despite the strong bench press results from his virtual Pro Day might keep that move from being possible.
When on the move, whether combo blocking to the second level or pulling, Shackelford was at his best, showing solid lateral agility. He was also known as an intelligent player — he made the Academic All-Big 12 First Team in 2018 and 2019 — but at times he had issues putting up line games like end-tackle twists.
As a consensus mid three-star prospect, Shackelford was the lowest-ranked member of the 2016 Texas recruiting class who almost immediately overachieved compared to his rankings out of high school. Now the question is whether he can once again overachieve by carving out an NFL career.