With the 16th overall pick, the Arizona Cardinals selected linebacker Zaven Collins in the first round of Thursday’s NFL Draft.
Collins is a 6-foot-5, 260 pounder out of Tulsa, and he will look to make an impact in the Cardinals front seven playing alongside Isaiah Simmons in their 3-4 scheme.
Although some Cardinal fans were looking for a corner or wide receiver, Collins is highly-rated among Pro Football Focus and was their highest-rated linebacker this past season.
He was on Steve Keim’s radar for a long time throughout the draft process, and he was one of many players that the organization was looking at linebacker and in the front seven.
“I’ve been impressed with a number of the receivers and the outside linebackers class, guys who are generally college defensive ends who project as outside linebackers,” Keim said last week during a media availability. “That group has been impressive to me. They are guys (the linebackers) that are going to be able to come in and start at an early point in their career.”
This isn’t a pick that will come without some backlash from the fan base, but the jury will be out as the Cardinals look to strengthen their defense. Here’s what some other players, analysts, and personalities were saying about the second player from Tulsa to ever be drafted in the first round:
Pro Football Focus
Cardinals select Tulsa LB Zaven Collins
Highest-graded LB in the country last season (93.6) pic.twitter.com/XVTTz7g4nt
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 30, 2021
The #Cardinals snag Zaven Collins the Line Backer out of Tulsa a guy who I've had my eyes on since I seent Tulsa play #DraftSpectacular pic.twitter.com/KeMlKtaP4G
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) April 30, 2021
Welcome to the squad @ZavenCollins
Let’s work. #RedSea
(it’s a dry heat.)
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) April 30, 2021
Zayven Collins is highlyyyyyy underrated
— Chase Edmonds (@ChaseEdmonds22) April 30, 2021
Let’s get to it Big Fella! @ZavenCollins
— Kyler Murray (@K1) April 30, 2021
Tulsa Head Coach Philip Montgomery
Couldn’t be more PROUD of @ZavenCollins! So happy for him and his family!! GREAT things ahead for him and the @AZCardinals! Go Cards!!!! pic.twitter.com/uTpF9tfPyE
— Philip Montgomery (@CoachPMonty) April 30, 2021
ESPN Draft Analyst Matt Miller
Zaven Collins is a unique player. Some teams liked him at EDGE, others at LB. Expect Arizona to use him at both to find matchups.
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 30, 2021