Throughout the entirety of the NFL offseason, the next generation of stars in the league have been meeting with teams and preparing for a transition to the best football league in the world. One player who has been drawing a lot of attention ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft is Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins.
Collins is a 6-foot-4 linebacker who could be anywhere from a mid-to-late first-round selection in the upcoming NFL Draft. He is considered to be one of the best pass rushing linebackers in the 2021 NFL Draft Class and there figure to be a lot of teams trying to land his services.
He was a force to be reckoned with during his career at Tulsa and his numbers look very appealing to NFL coaches and scouts. Collins, in three seasons at Tulsa, accumulated 236 total tackles, 25 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumbles recovered, eight passes defended, five interceptions, and two defensive touchdowns.
Zaven Collins did it all while at Tulsa and he is easily one of the most decorated linebackers in the upcoming NFL Draft. There is expected to be a lot of teams in the mix for Collins, but we narrowed it down to the best four.
Let’s take a look at four teams that would be an ideal landing spot for Collins in the 2021 NFL Draft.
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints lost some key pieces of their defense as part of an effort to cut some salary and they may look to the quickly approaching NFL Draft to address their needs at the position. One of the players the Saints could have their sights set on is Zaven Collins.
Collins has been linked to the Saints since the official draft order was announced and it seems like the interest between the two sides is mutual. Saints’ assistant general manager Jeff Ireland was seen chatting with Collins following his Pro Day workouts and the two sides seem to be interested in one another.
He would be an exceptional replacement for Kwon Alexander and Alex Anzalone in New Orleans and the Saints could have their next star defender on the roster for years to come. Collins would be a starter from the minute he stepped off the plane in New Orleans and he could have a major impact on the New Orleans defense.
The Detroit Lions are in need of some talent to add to their linebacker room and they could look no further than Zaven Collins. He would fit the mold of the new-look Lions as they look to bring in some hard working players who aren’t afraid to lay the lumber on someone.
Collins had nearly 250 tackles in three seasons in college and could easily anchor the Lions’ linebacker room. He is the kind of player that you build your defense around and he has all the tools to take on the brunt of the action for the Detroit defense.
He is probably the most NFL-ready linebacker aside from Micah Parsons in this year’s draft and his pass rushing abilities could make him favored over Parsons. Don’t be shocked if the Lions roll the dice on the Tulsa linebacker early in the NFL Draft.
The Pittsburgh Steelers need to add a complimentary piece to Devin Bush on their defense and there may not be a better option for them to consider than Zaven Collins. He would be a perfect fit for the Steelers due to his ability to rush the passer and excel in pass coverage as well.
Zaven Collins has met with the Steelers already and stated that he “loves” coach Mike Tomlin. Tomlin could prove that he loves him back and select him in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft and add to his already impressive defense.
Collins just seems like a Pittsburgh pick to make as they are always seemingly looking for the next big star at the linebacker position. Adding him to the team would allow TJ Watt to focus on rushing the passer while Devin Bush and Collins handle the heavy work at linebacker.
New England Patriots
The New England Patriots are searching for their next star linebacker and they could set their sights on Collins. Collins, who checks in a 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds, is the perfect linebacker in terms of tackling, pass rushing, and pass coverage.
He isn’t getting nearly enough respect as potentially being the best overall linebacker in this year’s draft, but in my eyes he ranks higher than Parsons. Parsons is excellent if you’re looking for a pure tackling backer, but Collins balled out in all three facets of the game.
Zaven Collins could be a great addition to the New England linebacker unit and he could step in and start from day one. The Patriots know how to mold exceptional players into All-Pro’s at their positions, and they could do the same with Collins. Don’t be surprised if the Patriots pick him up with their 15th pick in the NFL Draft.