Zaven Collins gives the Steelers a defensive chess piece at No. 24
The Pittsburgh Steelers come in the 2021 draft with some needs to address, especially along the trenches. The Steelers can certainly use help along the offensive line, especially at tackle and center, but with the exit of Bud Dupree and Ola Adeniyi, they could also use depth and talent at EDGE.
However, at the spot they currently are in the draft, they wouldn’t be in the wrong to go BPA in this scenario, and that’s exactly what Behind the Steel Curtain decided to do at No. 24.
With the 24th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select….
Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
From Jeff Hartman at Behind the Steel Curtain:
The Pittsburgh Steelers need help on the offensive side of the ball, especially on the offensive line, but there are prospects you just can’t pass on. Collins is one of those prospects.
Collins will be deployed as a hybrid linebacker who can do it all. He can play inside alongside Devin Bush, and can even flex to the outside to pressure the quarterback on the edge.
A defender like Collins will make the loss of Bud Dupree less painful, but will also add an element to the defense the Steelers’ already rock solid defense even better. On top of that, Collins is the type of player who can help the defense from Day 1, and an immediate impact player is just what the Steelers needed from their first round draft pick.
With the dynamic Collins, the Steelers will turn their attention to offensive needs in the next rounds. Look for the Steelers to make a play on a center, running back and tackles in the middle rounds of the draft to hopefully round out a tremendous 2021 draft class.
Zaven Collins is a big, powerful and very athletic linebacker with all the instincts and intelligence you want in a player. At 6’5 and 259 pounds, the range and lateral mobility Collins displays on the field is quite amazing. Collins also knows how to use his size and length as he has a broad tackle radius and is a consistent finisher. From a mental aspect, Collins also processes and diagnosis things in front of him quickly and closes in a hurry to fill his gaps in the running game.
For a man of his size, Zaven Collins moves surprisingly well in space and certainly has some coverage capabilities. Collins shows good awareness in zone coverage, and he has some man coverage capabilities with his athleticism, speed and length to take on tight ends and running backs if needed. What is most fun about a player like Collins is, even though he is disciplined in his run fits and has some coverage chops, he can also be used in pass rushing situations. Given the EDGE situation the Steelers currently have on the roster, Collins can take on some snaps coming off the edge when needed.
Zaven Collins can be a versatile playmaker for the Steelers on an already good defense. He was a consistent playmaker for the Golden Hurricanes and had only gotten better as his career progressed.
Collins isn’t a polished rusher off the edge and will need to work on using his hands more when taking on blocks, but there are no limits to what he can do. Even though Collins has been viewed as an off the ball linebacker, he projects to be anything the Steelers need him to be on the defense. Yes, this kid is just that talented.
Top prospects remaining:
- Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
- Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
- Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
- Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
- Greg Newsome Jr., CB, Northwestern