Roster needs aplenty, the Dallas Cowboys might take a cornerback with the No. 10 overall pick in this month’s NFL draft. Or they could nab a defensive lineman. Or they could secure an offensive tackle.
Or, when the smoke clears April 29, they could pull the trigger on a linebacker named “Zaven Collins.”
Citing an NFL scout, ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller passed along Dallas and New England as “landing spots” for the Tulsa product, a presumptive top-15 selection.
Collins was recently mocked to the Cowboys by CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso.
“Jerry Jones sends shockwaves through the NFL with his selection, but Collins is a do-everything linebacker who boosts the play of that unit instantly,” Trapasso wrote on March 29.
Sports Illustrated’s Ric Serritella also connected Collins (and Kentucky LB Jamin Davis) to Jerry Jones’ defensive-hungry squad.
“Another big pro day performance is expected today from #Kentucky LB Jamin Davis whose draft stock has skyrocketed. My sources tell me that Davis, along with #Tulsa LB Zaven Collins could be in play for the #DallasCowboys at No.10 in the upcoming 2021 #NFLDraft,” Serritella reported on March 31.
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A three-year starter for the Golden Hurricanes, the 6-foot-5, 259-pound do-it-all ‘backer posted 236 tackles (129 solo, 25 for loss), eight pass breakups, 7.5 sacks, five interceptions, and two defensive touchdowns over 32 career games.
Collins enjoyed a breakout 2020 campaign, capturing a slew of prestigious honors, including the Lombardi Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, and the Chuck Bednarik Award. He also was named the AAC Defensive Player of the Year and a unanimous All-American.
A lethal blend of strength and speed, Collins, 22 (in May), projects as a future starter at the next level with some refinement. He’s considered among the top three LB prospects (Micah Parsons, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah) in the 2021 class and has drawn pro comparisons ranging from current Cowboys starter Leighton Vander Esch to Chicago Bears Hall-of-Famer Brian Urlacher.
“Combines rare size and athleticism as a big outside linebacker. Collins is a team-oriented defender willing to plug gaps and spill the action wide for teammates to run down,” NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein wrote in his scouting profile. “He’s rangy with the burst and length to track and capture his prey from the back side or out on the perimeter. His athletic gifts help him overcome his tardiness in diagnosing the action. There is still room for improvement when it comes to taking on blocks and pursuing with proper leverage so cutbacks don’t cross his face. The second effort is evident with how frequently he’s able to recover from an early block and still make plays. He’s aware and dangerous in spot drops with the read and reaction to jump the passing lane. Collins could use more aggression in his play demeanor, but his combination of talent and traits should make him a productive pro starter.”
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