Tulsa: Zaven Collins
With the 39th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select linebacker Zaven Collins from Tulsa.
Wow. Like the first-round choice, I don’t anticipate Collins to be available when the Detroit Lions are on the board. Various outlets have a first-round grade on Collins and expect him to be a late first-round selection.
The Lions require an entire linebacking overhaul minus Jamie Collins. This selection would be a huge help. Playing for Tulsa, Zaven Collins may not exactly be a household name or someone the casual fan is familiar with, but let me tell you something, search this kid and get to know him. Collins will be playing and making a huge impact on Sunday’s.
Collins’ work was rewarded in 2020 as he won the Bronko Nagurski Award, which is given to the league’s top defensive player in college football. Collins will provide a defense with plenty of flexibility to play as an off-ball linebacker stacked or play as an edge-rusher.
He best fits in a 4-3 defense, and at this time, all signs are starting to point to this defensive alignment for the Detroit Lions.
In eight games last season with Tulsa, Collins recorded 54 total tackles, 4 sacks, and 4 interceptions. Collins also scored two touchdowns, defended two passes, and forced two fumbles. He’s exactly what the doctor ordered for the Lions, and if he is indeed available with the 39th pick, it’s a no-brainer.
The 6-foot-4, 260-pound linebacker recorded an elite 91.1 overall grade courtesy of PFF in 2020. That grade included a 90.6 pass-rush and 93.7 coverage mark. Two areas Detroit linebackers stunk during the Matt Patricia era.
Pro Football Focus Draft Grade: B+