Every year, several prospects take the jump from relatively unknown to projected early-round picks. One such player in the 2021 NFL Draft cycle was Zaven Collins. The Tulsa linebacker has an intriguing skill set that is centered on his impressive movement skills and massive frame. At his weigh-ins in Indianapolis, Collins measured in at 6040 and 270 pounds - a staggering 11 pounds more than the 259 pounds he was recorded to be at his pro day.
These surprising weigh-in results are not inherently negative. Collins may be returning to his regular playing weight after cutting to run a faster 40-yard dash time at his pro day. That said, his measurements may raise concerns regarding his scheme versatility. As former NFL executive Dane Vandernat pointed out, NFL teams play a substantial percentage of their snaps in some iteration of the nickel or dime defense. A 270-pound off-ball linebacker does not traditionally fit into these schemes; however, Collins’ ability in coverage at his size is perhaps his most appealing trait.
Although size concerns typically pertain to smaller athletes, prospects with larger frames can also present a risk to the team that drafts them. Specifically, there is a chance that the player will struggle to maintain playing weight in the future. There is no evidence Collins will fall into this category. Still, his 11-pound rise between his pro day and Indianapolis measurements may be seen as a red flag. According to Vandernat, teams will keep track of the weight at which a player ran their 40. It stands to reason, then, that teams will likely see Collins’ playing weight as 259 pounds.
It is not uncommon for a notable prospect to be the subject of size concerns. It is important to recognize, through these questions, that there is good weight and there is bad weight. Perhaps Collins was rising back to his natural playing weight and remains in shape. Nonetheless, teams will likely still look into his health and the chance he has of struggling with his weight in the future. All the same, Zaven Collins is an extremely talented linebacker whose large frame was a clear strength on film. He should still expect to hear his name called early come draft day.
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