Tulane (2020), Oklahoma State (2020), UCF (2020), SMU (2020)
He has the ability to change direction quickly and shoot into open holes. Collins can tackle in space at a very good level. He has good play speed and acceleration that let him show off his range to catch backs in pursuit. His hands are strong and quick. His hands allow him to block shed at a good level. He has the ability to be a 3-down linebacker because of his zone coverage skills as well. Collins can disguise and jump routes. He is tough, makes clean tackles, and attacks every play with the aggressiveness that you want in a ILB.
Receivers and TE's that have the ability to run deep routes at a high level can beat him in M/M type coverages. Being able to bring consistent pressure and being a reliable 3-4 pass rusher is not the type of linebacker he can be at the NFL level. He does not have polished pass rushing moves.
Zaven Collins out of Tulsa is an athletic monster for his size at the linebacker position. This is a LB that plays the game with a high intense motor. The ability to change directions quickly and have the sideline-to-sideline game speed pops on film. In space, Collins has the ability to attack the ball carrier with aggressiveness and force. He has the ability to shoot gaps and make tackles behind the LOS. In coverage, he has the ability to disguise himself, jump routes, and make game changing INTs. However, this is not a ILB that can lock down good route running TE's and slot WRs in M/M type coverages. Collins is not going to be a huge pass rushing OLB in a 3-4 type scheme as well. He must be left in the middle of the defense where he can move around and make tackles on ball carriers. He can be success at blitzing the A and B gaps to create big stops behind the LOS. Collins has a good ability to read and react to plays when they are unfolding. He is always moving and will attack the play with a lot of force. Overall, Collins is a huge sleeper in this draft. He has the ability to improve any NFL defense if he is coached up right.
Collins is a sideline-sideline inside backer that has so much game speed and range. His playing speed is off the charts but he is not the fastest straight line speed LB in this draft. His acceleration and lateral agility impact his ability to fly all around the field. He has the flexibility to get low and slide through small spaces to make a tackle on the ball carriers behind the LOS. He has a good COD ability in his game which translates to his ability to making tackles in space. The ability to transition out of his drop backs and attack with closing quickness is outstanding. If he gets the ball in his hands, he has the ability to make a return.
Pass Rush Ability:
Big Play Ability
Rush with Leverage
Pass Rush Moves
The initial first step quickness off the snap of the ball is very good. The ability to rush the passer is there if he blitzes up the middle of the A and B gaps. Collins is not going to be a natural 3-4 OLB that can be a consistent finesse pass rusher. OTs were able to contain him if he was coming off the edge because he does not have polished pass rushing skills. If he is rushing the passer, he can create some pressure if he can rushes with enough leverage at the POA. He does time up plays at a good level when meeting with the ball carrier.
One of the best inside coverage linebackers in this draft. Collins has the fluid hips to change directions quickly and jump routes. He knows how to hide himself in the middle of the field and then break on the ball. His ball skills are on point for a LB and has good closing burst on passing plays. He can man up on tight ends in short field scenarios. However, good route running TE’s and WR’s can make plays against him deep down the field. Collins is much better in zone coverage because it allows him to attack the target in space.
Against The Run:
The ability to shoot gaps is certainly one of his best traits. Against UCF on 10/03/20, Collins was able to shoot the hole so quickly and make a tackle deep behind the LOS for a safety. When a play is running directly at him, he has a good amount of power and strength to block shed off to make the tackle. Bigger linemen can pancake Collins if they get their pad level low and drive. However, Collins is outstanding in pursuit and can attack ball carriers at different angles. This is a clean tackler that made big time tackles for his team.
Play with Leverage
Stack and Shed
A competitive LB that brings the heat and aggressiveness mostly every play. He does not mind putting his head down and hitting players in the trenches. He attacks backs and linemen with force. Collins wants to make sure the ball carrier feels his hits. Collins is always trying to get into the action of gang tackles. His motor runs very high. He can chase down ball carriers from behind and make diving tackles.
The football instincts that he possesses is at a good level and evident when the ball is snapped. His feet are always moving, and he attacks the plays with aggressive force. Collins knows how to read and react to plays quickly. He will be reacting and attacking while the play is unfolding. His awareness to make a play near the goal line or on 3rd downs, stands out the most. He sees PA and read option plays at a good level as well. This is a LB that can be played at all LB positions in 4-3 schemes.