Zaven Collins NFL Draft Overview
Position: Middle/Outside Linebacker
Weight: 259 pounds
School: University of Tulsa
Zaven Collins Draft Profile
There are several standout defensive playmakers in the 2021 NFL Draft. At the linebacker position, the race for the top middle linebacker is neck-and-neck with Tulsa Golden Hurricanes star Zaven Collins making a great case for the top player. Collins made a huge impact in his redshirt freshman season in 2018 for the Golden Hurricanes. He played in 12 games while starting in 10 of them and accounting for 85 total tackles, 42 solo tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, three pass deflections, one interception, and one forced fumble. The next season, Collins started in all 12 games for the Golden Hurricanes. He accounted for 97 total tackles, 51 solo tackles, eight tackles for loss, two sacks, and three pass deflections.
In a shortened 2020 college football season, Collins became one of the best defensive players in the nation. This past season, Collins accounted for 54 total tackles, 36 solo tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, four interceptions (two returned for a touchdown), two pass deflections, and two forced fumbles. In the huge win over the UCF Golden Knights, Collins accumulated 10 total tackles, seven tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, an interception, and two pass deflections. His best performance this season was when he accumulated 15 total tackles and an interception for a 96-yard touchdown. He finished the season as the Lombardi Award winner (best overall player), Bronko Nagurski Award winner (best defensive player), and Chuck Bednarik Award winner (defensive player of the year). Collins is a highly productive and consistent linebacker who can provide defensive support in the passing and running game.
- Great combination of speed and athleticism to go with his size;
- Has quick and reliable instincts when to properly blitz and avoids blockers;
- Is highly efficient in chasing the ball-carrier down for a tackle in the backfield;
- Solid zone coverage linebacker;
- Hard-hitting tackler as well as creating contact with the offensive linemen;
- Quick and fluid mover.
- Relies on his body too much as he doesn’t always wrap up in tackles;
- Doesn’t have the greatest hands when in zone coverage;
- Often struggles to get off blocks from the offensive linemen;
- Tends to avoid contact when blitzing;
- He tends to undercut his pursuit angle;
- Processes some plays slower than average.
NFL Comparisons: Leighton Vander Esch
Teams With Need At The Position: Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, Las Vegas Raiders, Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans,
Projection: Late-first or early-second round
Bottom Line on Zaven Collins
Zaven Collins is one of the most consistent and efficient defensive playmakers in this NFL Draft process. It isn’t often you see someone with three defensive player of the year awards coming from a group of five program like Tulsa. Collins finishes his career at Tulsa accumulating 236 total tackles, 129 solo tackles, 25 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, five interceptions, eight pass deflections, three forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries. Collins spent a lot of time in-between middle linebacker and outside linebacker at Tulsa. He is a defender that can best adapt to the defensive schemes for the Golden Hurricanes. He can likely do the same for any NFL team that drafts him in the first or early second round.
A middle linebacker is a position that drops the most significantly which means Collins could find his way to a playoff contender. Despite this, there have been talks that Collins’ stock has rising due to a stellar Pro Day in front of NFL scouts and coaches. There have been rumors that scouts could see Collins be selected somewhere in the range of the 15th overall pick. In the latest mock draft from ESPN Draft Analyst Mel Kiper Jr., the Cleveland Browns are the team that will select Collins 26th overall. A team like Pittsburgh, Carolina, or Titans could make a big move for a dynamic player like Collins. He could find himself as a starter soon also as a potential developer of a high-caliber defense under his leadership.
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