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NFL Draft 2014: Former K-State FS Ty Zimmerman reportedly signed by Saints

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The stalwart captain will try and make an impact alongside Tavon Rooks in New Orleans.

Zimmerman busting a punt return in 2010.
Zimmerman busting a punt return in 2010.
Doug Pensinger

After a stellar, if injury-marred, career in Manhattan, free safety Ty Zimmerman will apparently get a chance to extend his career. The Saints have, per NEPatriotsDraft.com (which nailed all these last year), reportedly signed Ty Zimmerman as an undrafted free agent, joining fellow Wildcat Tavon Rooks, who was selected in the sixth round by New Orleans.

Zimmerman, a two-time first team All-Big 12 selection and a third-team AP All-American his junior year, contributed for all four years of his eligibility, but a fractured fibula suffered in 2012 cost him the last few games of the season, though he was able to return for the Fiesta Bowl against Oregon. His senior season eerily mirrored his junior year, as he again suffered a leg injury late in the season, missed the final two regular season games, and returned just in time for the Wildcats' win over Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

Those injuries, pius shoulder surgery in January, led to Zimmerman playing in no post-season all-star contests, and also led to him not being invited to the Combine. Mid-season prognostication last year had Zimmerman pegged as a potential third- or fourth-round pick, but those missed opportunities to impress teams pushed him down the draft board. Still, he put on an impressive performance at a specially-scheduled pro day in Manhattan last week.

Zimmerman is a heady player, especially effective in reading a play and determining whether he needs to pull in and help against the run. K-State was noticeably more effective against the run when Zimmerman was on the field and healthy. That's not to imply that he's not an excellent pass defender; Zimmerman hauled in 13 interceptions over his career in Manhattan, including five in his injury-shortened junior campaign.

He's also never been shy about special teams play; early in his career he served time as K-State's punt returner, and consistently stayed involved in punt and kickoff coverage until his junior year injury. After that, the coaching staff pulled the plug to help save him the beating, but before that he was a very effective coverage player.

Here's a look at some of Zimmerman's highlights from 2013, courtesy of FOX Sports:

If you're looking for a comparison, there's actually a very good one. Zimmerman is essentially a slightly better version of another former Wildcat safety, right down to both players having started their careers at K-State as walk-ons from high schools in the Manhattan area. That other player was Manhattan High's Jon McGraw, who put together a decent ten-year career in the NFL with the Jets, Lions, and Chiefs. If Zimmerman (a Junction City product) can finally put that fibula issue behind him -- and be aware that both injuries were due to action on the field, not simple stress injuries -- he should put together a similar career.