Zaven Collins NFL Draft 2021: Scouting Report for Arizona Cardinals LB

BR NFL Scouting DepartmentContributor IApril 30, 2021

FILE - Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins (23) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during an NCAA football game in Tampa, Fla., in this Oct. 23, 2020, file photo. Zaven Collins is a small-town player with big-time talent. He was overlooked after a stellar high school career in Hominy, Okla., a town with about 3,500 people. He’s got the nation’s attention now -- the 6-foot-4, 260-pound linebacker is a finalist for the Butkus and Nagurski Awards.  (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio, File)
Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

 6'4 "




—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.


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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)





Written by B/R NFL Scout Justis Mosqueda

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