There are quite a few 2021 mock drafts from major media draftniks to pass along on this first Monday of April and one of the several comes via Lance Zierlein of nfl.com. In his third first-round offering of 2021, Zierlein has the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins in the first round at 24th overall. Below is the reason given by Zierlein for mocking Collins to the Steelers.
When the need matches the talent available, everyone is happy. Collins has throwback size, but new-school athleticism and coverage ability as a three-down player.
At his pro day last week, Collins measured in at 6047, 259-pounds and reportedly ran his 40-yard-dash in 4.67-seconds in addition to posting a vertical jump of 35-inches and a broad jump of 10’2″. While the Steelers did have at least two members of the organization there in area scout Kelvin Fisher and assistant outside linebackers coach Denzel Martin, it’s important to note that neither general manager Kevin Colbert nor head coach Mike Tomlin were present. In short, that’s a huge strike against Collins potentially being the Steelers first-round selection this year if you go by team history dating back to 2004.
While neither Colbert nor Tomlin were present for the Tulsa pro day last week, Collins did say that he has talked to quite a few members of the organization throughout the pre-draft process up until this point. He also talked about how much he likes Tomlin, specifically.
“I love Coach Tomlin,” Collins said during his pro day media session. “Great dude. Great energy. Great personality. It was awesome meeting all of them. I really feel blessed. That’s when it comes most surreal. Whenever you’re sitting with guys you watched on TV, coaching all these high-level athletes, and they’re giving you the time of day to talk to you for about an hour-and-a-half over Zoom meeting with how your life was and what you know about football. So that’s something I’m really grateful for.”
In his three seasons at Tulsa, Collins registered 236 total tackles of which 25 resulted in lost yardage. He also had 7.5 sacks in three seasons and five interceptions of which four came during the 2020 season. The Tulsa linebacker forced three fumbles during his college career and had eight total passes defensed as well.
Having Collins playing alongside Steelers inside linebacker Devin Bush for the next several years in the Steelers defense is quite an intriguing thought and that’s likely why he’s been linked as a possible first-round selection for Pittsburgh most of the offseason.
Many major media draftniks have Collins being drafted somewhere in the first round and in the bottom half at that. It will be interesting to see if he’s still on the board come the Steelers 24th overall selection and if he is, if the Steelers will bypass him in lieu of another player.