This Cardinals draft pick has to live up to first-round hype in 2024

Do or die.
Arizona Cardinals v Washington Commanders
Arizona Cardinals v Washington Commanders / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

With the 16th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals selected Zaven Collins out of Tulsa. Collins went to a smaller school, which made him a bit of a risk as a first-round pick but the Cardinals decided to take the risk.

In his first two years in the pros, Collins wasn't used in the best way but that changed when Jonathan Gannon took over in 2023. This makes sense considering that Gannon has a defensive background and can bring out the best in players on that side of the ball.

According to Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports, Collins is a player who could see two very different fates after the 2024 season. One of those paths is that he signs a huge extension with the Cardinals and both sides end up being happy about where things are at there. The other path is that things don't work out and Collins signs elsewhere following the 2024 season.

"Is an extension with the Cardinals possible? Absolutely. And it'll likely come with more pass-rushing effectiveness in Gannon's scheme in 2024. However, if Collins remains an average coverage linebacker and run-stopper without the outside-rushing speciality, he'll be a prime low-to-mid level free-agent add for another club in the 2025 offseason, as the Cardinals declined to exercise his fifth-year option. "

Chris Trapasso

Zaven Collins needs to have a big year in 2024

The good news is that Collins put together his best pro season under Gannon, tallying 3.5 sacks in 17 starts. If Gannon can continue to use the former Tulsa product the way he was used in college and get the best possible results from him, hopefully things can work out between both sides and Collins can stick around long-term.

If not, then it'll be time to move on and let another team bring him in. It's a big season ahead for Collins and let's hope that he plays well and the Cardinals benefit from having him onboard.