The Arizona Cardinals have officially come to terms with their 2021 first-round draft pick, linebacker Zaven Collins.
Zaven Collins, selected in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft out of the University of Tulsa, has officially signed with the Arizona Cardinals.
Collins’ rookie contract will pay him around $14.7 million, and it includes an $8 million signing bonus. Since he was selected in the first round, his deal also includes a fifth-year option that the Cardinals can choose to exercise later on down the road.
Arizona fans are hoping Collins and 2020 first-round draft pick Isaiah Simmons become the new top linebacker duo in the NFL.
Pressure will be on Zaven Collins to make an impact for the Arizona Cardinals in 2021
This is the third time the Cardinals have used a first-round selection on a linebacker in the last five years, so there already is pressure on Collins to perform. Being given the starting job and ousting incumbent veteran Jordan Hicks without even playing a snap has also caused some controversy.
It will be a very interesting test for Arizona’s rookie linebacker in Week 1 when he leads the team’s defense against the Tennessee Titans, who are now looking lethal after acquiring Julio Jones from the Atlanta Falcons.
Jones has the third-highest average yards gained on bubble screens since 2000, something that Arizona’s offense does a lot of as well. Will Collins be able to defend Jones on these plays if they happen?
It will be up to the Cardinals two young linebackers to limit Tennessee’s effectiveness and help gain a crucial Week 1 victory. Early season losses to the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers doomed Arizona last year, and had they actually defeated the Lions, they would have been in the playoffs after defeating the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Cardinals’ work is cut out for them, and let’s hope Collins earns every dollar that he is signed up for. It will be interesting to see what the response might be from Arizona’s fan base if the first-round linebacker plays like a true rookie in Week 1 against the Titans and has a few mistakes like Simmons did last year during the season-opener against the San Francisco 49ers.
If this happens, we will have to remember that one game does not determine the rest of a player’s career (unless you’re Nathan Peterman), so Collins should be given a chance to grow.