PFF grades Cardinals’ Zaven Collins as 6th-best rookie linebacker

Dec 24, 2021, 2:04 PM
Zaven Collins #25 of the Arizona Cardinals warms up prior to the game against the Cleveland Browns ...
Zaven Collins #25 of the Arizona Cardinals warms up prior to the game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 17, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

After 15 weeks of the 2021 NFL season, Pro Football Focus evaluated every team’s first round draft pick, and the returns are unsurprisingly underwhelming — if not incomplete — for Arizona Cardinals rookie Zaven Collins.

The Cardinals selected the Tulsa linebacker 16th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, and his overall grade as a pro now sits at 67.4. That makes him the sixth-ranked rookie linebacker among those eligible.

The 2021 season has been a bit of a mystery for Collins. The Cardinals anointed him as starting MIKE linebacker on draft night, which never materialized with veteran Jordan Hicks playing well. Collins’ snap counts have diminished significantly in the second half of the season, not playing a defensive snap the last two weeks.

However, Collins has played a larger role in special teams and even recovered the much-needed onside kick in the dwindling moments of the Cardinals’ Week 14 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football.

Even with his lack of playing time in recent weeks, his grade from PFF could be reflective of the work he did when on the field.

Collins has just one game since Week 7 with more than 10 snaps on defense, and while that was a rough performance, he had been impressive in games earlier in the season.

Collins has tallied 22 total tackles on the year, including one tackle for loss.

No. 11 overall pick Micah Parsons of the Dallas Cowboys was the top ranked rookie at the linebacker position, though he has been moved into a hybrid pass-rushing role. The Cowboys have used Parsons in a number of ways defensively, playing him 21 snaps against the run, 23 in coverage, and 12 snaps rushing the passer against the New York Giants in Week 15.

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PFF grades Cardinals’ Zaven Collins as 6th-best rookie linebacker