Bears excited about Henry MeltonContinue reading.
Bears may have found a good one in DT Zach Minter
Zach Minter, a standout defensive tackle at Montana State, was hoping to get a call from the Bears as Day 3 of the draft unfolded. And Minter actually thought he would when the Bears’ seventh-round selection came up.
But his phone didn’t ring. Instead, Marquess Wilson, a receiver from Washington State, got the call.
“It was up and down,” MInter told the Sun-Times. “It was, ‘I think they will call me,’ and then, ‘I don’t know now.’ It was such a emotional rollercoaster. I did think they were going to call me when using that seventh-round pick. I honestly believed I was going to get a call. But when I didn’t, I wasn’t bummed.”
“I felt all signs pointed to the Bears when they started to show interest,” Minter said. “There’s a lot of things that excite me about the Bears.”
That call finally came from the Bears. It just came a little later than hoped. Minter is one of 10 rookie free agents the Bears agreed to terms with a day after the 2013 draft concluded. Minter also is a player the Bears kept a watchful eye on, starting a week before the draft.
“I really enjoyed the way they recruited me,” said Minter, who has family in Arlington Heights. “I liked talking to [defensive line coach] Mike Phair. I think we really connected really quickly. …They contacted me about a week before the draft and maybe every single day after that. So I mean they really showed commitment.”
The Bears showed such an interest because Minter is quite the under-the-radar prospect. Minter is a two-time All-Big Sky first team selection, who opened a lot of eyes at the NFL’s super regional combine in Dallas on April 7.
Just consider some of his measurables.
At the super regional, Minter (6-1, 301 pounds) ran a 4.80 in the 40-yard dash and posted a 34.5-inch vertical jump. Those numbers would been the best and second-best among defensive tackles at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, if he was there. Minter also benched 225 pounds 31 times at his pro day.
“I believe I showed how athletic I am [In Dallas],” Minter said. “I believe that can go a long way in my position, especially with the coaching I’m going to receive and have gotten.”
Defensive tackle is a relatively thin position for the Bears, and will be even more so if veteran defensive lineman Israel Idonije isn’t re-signed. Right now, there are starters Henry Melton and Stephen Paea and two reserves, Nate Collins and Andre Fluellen, who each have one-year deals.
In other words, the defensive tackle position was a need in the draft. But the Bears opted to address their holes on the offensive line and at linebacker. So enter Minter and Georgia Southern defensive tackle Brent Russell, another rookie free agent who signed with the Bears.
“I think they saw my explosiveness and how I’m able to get into the backfield and also use my hands,” Minter said. “That’s the type of defense the Bears run. It’s up field, get to the quarterback, get to the ball, change direction, get to the play. I feel like I would do a really good job of doing that.
“Mike [Phair] was telling me that he liked my footwork and he liked how I put myself in position to make plays. I feel like if I can do that for the Bears I can find myself on the 53-man roster.”
Minter said he sees himself as a three-technique defensive lineman like Melton. But he’s ready to learn what Melton and Paea both do.
“I’m willing to play whatever position gets me on the field,” Minter said. “The nose position I played a little bit in college, but as far as what I see myself as, it’s the three-technique, but I know I’m going to come in to learn those [both]. The better I know both positions, the more versatile I’ll be and useful to the defense.
“I’m excited to see how those guys [Melton and Paea] practice and how those guys prepare themselves and what they do on and off the field. I’m excited to meet them and to see what their mindset is. I know they’re good football players. I’m excited.”
Minter’s mother, Danette, is from Arlington Heights and his father, Larry, played football at Colorado State. So he already has a fan base in the Chicago area and a resource at home to turn to for advice.
“The family support system for me in Chicago is huge,” Minter said. “I’m just so blessed to be able to go back to play and work.”
There still is plenty of room for Minter to grow. He was a standout point guard in high school in Glendale, Ariz. and didn’t play tackle football until his junior year. Minter generated some interest from some bigger D-I programs, but connected with Montana State’s staff.
Minter had a breakout campaign his sophomore year at Montana State, recording five sacks, 10 tackles for loss, nine pass breakups and two interceptions. He followed that up by being an unanimous All-Big Sky pick in 2011, increasing his sack total to 7.5. His senior season was marred by a left hamstring injury and his production decreased. But Minter still was an All-Big Sky first teamer.
He already had proven himself.
Here’s Minter’s highlight video:
“It’s too bad I got hurt my senior season, but it put me in a position of this is exactly where I want to be at,” said Minter, who admitted he may have come back too early from a pulled left hamstring at first. “I’m still fortunate.”
Right now, Minter is 100 percent healthy and is working on his explosiveness and change of direction.
“I feel if I can get into the backfield, change of direction is huge for me,” he said.
As far as his character, there only was one little blip on the radar — and it was really nothing. Minter missed the first half of their first game last season for violating team rules.
“It was a miscommunication,” Minter said. “I was late to a meeting and had to sit out a little bit in the game. It could have been a lot of worse, but it still goes to show that I can’t be doing that, especially being a team leader. I thought it was at one spot and it wasn’t, and I was late. But no, my record is close to clean.”
So what exactly do the Bears have in Minter?
“I would describe myself as very disruptive,” he said. “I like causing chaos in the backfield, being behind the line. I’m tenacious. I pride myself on using my hands, but being faster and quicker than the guy’s in front of me is what my main skill set is.”
How about off the field?
“I’m a hard worker. I’m very hungry,” Minter said. “I like being in the position of where I’m at the bottom and I have to prove myself and just turn some heads. I kind of think it’s in my personality.”