Zaven Collins gives Arizona Cardinals one of the NFL’s deepest pass rush units

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals
Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

We first heard rumblings of Arizona Cardinals linebacker Zaven Collins working at edge/outside linebacker in April. That trend has since continued.

When we talk about Arizona Cardinals linebackers playing multiple positions, we often think of Isaiah Simmons. As for Zaven Collins, we pictured him as a middle, or inside linebacker, but that’s no longer the case. 

Collins continues to line up at outside linebacker/edge, and if that trend continues into training camp, then the Cards might just have a dynamic pass rushing unit on their hands in the fall. And one that’s far better than anyone in the NFL universe could have anticipated. 

Ironically enough, it’s not one of those situations where the former first round pick in Collins failed at inside linebacker. Out of his 100 combined tackles, 11 went for a loss. He also had a pick six, six pass deflections, and a forced fumble. Outstanding numbers to say the least. 

Arizona Cardinals deep at outside linebacker/edge with Collins

If the Cardinals were still running former defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s system, then chances are Collins is still an inside linebacker because it’s clear he thrived at the position. But with Jonathan Gannon and Nick Rallis running the show, a different scheme calls for a few tweaks, and it’s clear that the staff believes Collins is a better fit elsewhere on the defense. 

Now that it’s rather certain Collins is lining up at outside linebacker/edge, one look at the Arizona Cardinals depth chart at the position should have you excited. Collins adds even more spice to a unit that already includes Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders, along with rookie B.J. Ojulari. Further, Dennis Gardeck also seems to be getting a fresh chance, and if he earns a spot on the team, the Cards will have five capable players lining up on the outside. 

No, none of them are game-changers. Yet, anyway. But with a former first round pick in Collins, a second-rounder in B.J. Ojulari, plus a pair of third rounders in Thomas and Sanders, both of whom showed they can at least be solid NFL players as rookies, it’s tough not to get excited about this unit. 

And if Gardeck sticks, he too had a solid season in 2020, so we also know he’s produced in the past. So yeah, it’s okay to be thrilled with Collins joining what looks to be a deep, deep, deep unit. 

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Source: Cardinals LB Zaven Collins embracing life on the edge by Tyler Drake,