Each day leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft, we will take a look at prospects that should be on the Carolina Panthers' radar. We will look at roughly eleven prospects per round to give a better idea of potential draftees beyond just the first round.
Here's our schedule for the next 80 days:
1st Round: Feb. 8th - Feb. 21st
2nd Round: Feb. 22nd - Mar. 6th
3rd Round: Mar. 7th - Mar. 18th
4th Round: Mar. 19th - Mar. 29th
5th Round: Mar. 30th - Apr. 8th
6th Round: Apr. 9th - Apr. 18th
7th Round: Apr. 19th - Apr. 28th
Prospect No. 25: LB Zaven Collins
Height: 6'4" Weight: 260 lbs
Draft range: Late 1st round, early 2nd round
Analysis: For the folks who aren't avid fans of college football, Zaven Collins is arguably the most impressive defensive prospect in this draft class, and yes, the kid from Tulsa. He has all the intangibles that a defensive coordinator would want and yet, many believe he will go in the 2nd round. Not to play the name game, but if Collins were coming out of Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, etc., I think the outlook on him would be vastly different.
He's not just a solid run defender, he's a great run defender. Collins knows exactly where to attack the offensive line, which gaps to hit, and has a good feel for the play design pre-snap. For most college linebackers, they're a one-trick pony. They're either a great run stuffer or are elite in pass coverage. For Collins, it's both. He moves extremely well for his size and can run stride for stride with most receivers/tight ends.
We all know the lack of depth Carolina has at linebacker and although they do need some help along the offensive line, it would be hard to pass up a talent like Collins if he were to still be on the board.
The first thing to take note of when evaluating Collins is his impressive size. At over 6-3 and almost 260 pounds, he looks more like a defensive end than an off-ball linebacker. Collins owns impressive short-area twitch and springiness, allowing him to change directions quickly and smoothly.
Being so light on his feet, Collins also possesses the burst required to flow with runs outside of the tackle box, making him a rangy backer at the second level. When tasked with taking on blocks, he thrives as linemen are rarely able to impact him due to him keeping his frame clean with his hands and just his size. Collins has heavy hands that he uses to stab blockers with a long arm when he rushes off the edge. He can stack and shed thanks to his length and violent hands that he makes use of to disengage effectively.
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