HEIGHT: 6'4 ⅞"
—Size and athleticism to play any linebacking role in the NFL.
—Rare foot speed for a Sam linebacker.
—Is comfortable in a phonebooth between the tackles.
—Consistency is a premium trait, especially when tackling.
—Solid ball skills (four interceptions, two for touchdowns, in 2020).
—Football IQ and play recognition at linebacker is high quality for a former high school quarterback.
—Coverage skills are good, but he thrives as a spot-dropper more than playing cat coverage.
—Has the frame to rush the passer, but he is not refined enough to justify him playing there full-time.
—Did not play in an NFL-style defense or much against NFL-style offenses.
—Level of competition could be a deep jump, if the expectation is as a Day 1 starter.
54 TKL, 7.5 TFL, 4 SK, 4 INT, 2 PBU, 1 FR, 2 FF, 2 TD
—As a student, he was a high school valedictorian.
—Played quarterback and defensive back for four varsity years as a prep in Oklahoma.
—Split time as a tight end as a redshirt at Tulsa before starting 31 games as a linebacker.
Zaven Collins has versatility at the linebacker position that will make him sought out by every team. Off of size and speed alone, he has upside as a pass-rusher or blitzer, while he has shown on film he excels as a stack backer, even in coverage.
Collins could play Sam for a team in heavy sets or Will for a team in nickel sets, while jumping on or off the line of scrimmage on a down-to-down basis. On paper, he is similar to K.J. Wright, formerly of the Seattle Seahawks, who played that exact role in their Cover 3-heavy defense.
GRADE: 8.11/10 (Round 1)
OVERALL RANK: 24/300
POSITION RANK: LB3
PRO COMPARISON: K.J. Wright
Written by B/R NFL Scout Justis Mosqueda