With the top needs for the Arizona Cardinals gone long before number 16 in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, they settled on a linebacker. Yes, you read right, another linebacker.
Zaven Collins out of the University of Tulsa was the pick. There were reports on Twitter the Cardinals were trying to trade down. Apparently they found no takers.
Collins had 4 sacks and 4 interceptions in 2020 for the Golden Hurricane. He was named the AAC Defensive Player of the Year as well last season.
He won other awards last season as well. Those included the Bronko Nagurski Award for Most Outstanding Defensive Player and won the Chuck Bednarik Award for Defensive Player of the Year. His 4 interceptions last season lead the AAC and registered seventh in the NCAA in 2020.
So what does this pick mean for the Cardinals? Well it mirrors what they did last season in the first round when they took linebacker Isaiah Simmons out of Clemson with the number 8 pick overall.
The problem is the Cardinals seem to go through linebackers like they are going out of style. Simmons sat most of his rookie year. What’s the point of taking a player in the first round if he isn’t going to play?
Your first round selection, no matter who he is, should be a guy that is expected to play now. Remember first round pick Haason Reddick? He’s already bolted in free agency because the Cardinals allowed him to leave. Cardinals had fallen sour on him until he had a decent 2020 season.
Time will tell to see if Collins is another Simmons, who started coming around in mid-late 2020. But at number 16, the pick should be a guy that’s ready to play now unless he’s a quarterback sitting behind a veteran so he can learn.
Maybe Collins will be ready? The history for the Cardinals in the first round though outside Kyler Murray hasn’t been too kind to the Cardinals though in recent times. Josh Rosen, Deone Bucannon, Jonathan Cooper, Haason Reddick, Robert Nkemdiche, Michael Floyd all gone since 2012.
The only ‘hits’ have been D.J. Humphries, even he has had ups and downs, and Kyler Murray since 2012. Patrick Peterson turned out ok in 2011 but even he is gone now, couldn’t finish his career in Arizona.