3-star safety Zamir Mickens has been an under-the-radar gem for the 2018 Rutgers recruiting class. A safety out of Jersey City, the St. Peters Prep senior has been an unstoppable force for the Marauders. Mickens racked up 52 total tackles, two tackles for loss, two pass breakups and a forced fumble in 2017.
Looking through Mickens’ Hudl.com highlight reel, you can see that he is a naturally gifted athlete with a high football IQ. However, like any recruit, Mickens has room to grow and improve. Here is an in-depth look at what Mickens will bring to High Point Solutions Stadium.
Big and fast
Mickens stands at 6-1; a bit taller than your average safety. But his height, along with his 175 pound frame, give Mickens a light feeling to his playing style on the field. His height also allows him to win one-on-one battles against receivers when the ball is in the air. The fact that he also plays running back for the Marauders (174 rushing yards and two touchdowns in 2017) also shows just how fast Mickens can be.
In his Hudl.com game tape, Mickens comes down from over-the-top coverage and makes the pick. Right after, he not only has the breakaway speed to run up the sideline, but the agility and quick feet to evade tacklers on the way for a touchdown.
Built-in football GPS
As a defender, two of the most important traits to have is the ability to track the ball and recognize the play. The best defenders are not
fooled by play action, screen-passes, counter runs, or any other type of trick plays. They keep their eye on the pigskin and get to the ball carrier fast enough to prevent any big plays from happening.
Mickens has the nose of a bloodhound for the ball. His speed and size allow him to get to ball carrier at an alarming rate, leaving little to no room for the ball carrier to go.
An aggressive tackler
Mickens is a terror as a tackler and is as aggressive as they come. He hits hard enough to force turnovers at the most crucial moments of the game and is not afraid to take on bigger, heavier backs than him.
His tackling technique is also quite mechanical. Mickens knows how to square his shoulders onto the ball carrier and targets his hit zone well enough to avoid hitting the head or knees. When he makes contact, Mickens has a motor that never stops until either the whistle blows or the ball carrier is on the ground.
What Mickens can improve on
Based on his game tape, Mickens is great against the run. He is an aggressive tackler and can read well on where the ball carrier will go. But that is just it, Mickens is at his best against the run. Against the pass, there was little tape to see how good Mickens is in coverage.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. Mickens’ ability to tackle makes him a great strong safety, but it gives him a limited role on defense. Expect him to be used more in run-defense packages and special teams than in passing situations for Rutgers.
Overall, Mickens is a good, natural talent at strong safety. He is an aggressive tackler, can read the play well enough and fast enough to make one, and exhibits leadership skills both on the field and off. If I were to make a pro comparison for Mickens, I would say he is a lighter, faster version of New York Jets safety Jamal Adams.
I see a lot of upside with Mickens, but he can just get better at playing pass defense. I can definitely see Mickens being a star player for Scarlet Knights for years to come.