Zaven Collins

Cardinals First-Round Pick Zaven Collins Arrested

There’s a potential headache brewing for the Cardinals in the desert. Rookie first-round pick Zaven Collins was arrested in Arizona over the weekend, TMZ reports.

Details are light right now, but cops told TMZ that the linebacker “was speeding and driving dangerously.” He was allegedly driving 76 mph in a 35 mph zone. “A traffic stop was conducted, and Mr. Collins was placed under arrest for the violations,” the police said later in a somewhat cryptic statement.

The Tulsa product just signed his rookie contract, worth more than $14MM, a couple of weeks ago. A unanimous All-American this past season, the Cardinals drafted him 16th overall. The incident doesn’t sound particularly serious initially, but if more damaging details end up coming to light it could result in some league discipline.

Collins had four sacks last year, but we heard recently the team isn’t planning on using him as a hybrid pass-rusher and will instead have him playing strictly inside. Assuming everything goes according to plan, he should play a large role on Vance Joseph’s defense in Year 1.

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Cardinals Sign First-Round LB Zaven Collins

The Cardinals have signed their top draft pick. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that first-round linebacker Zaven Collins has signed his rookie deal. The deal is worth more than $14MM (per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on Twitter).

“It’s special,” Collins said (via the team’s website). “You know it’s coming, but until it’s here, you don’t know how you’re going to feel. It’s still a big milestone.”

After finishing with four sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss, the Tulsa product earned a long list of awards in 2020, including an unanimous All-American nod. This performance established him as one of the top prospects at his position in the draft, and the Cardinals made Collins the second linebacker off the board after selecting him with the No. 16 pick.

Despite the first-rounder checking in at 270 pounds, the team isn’t planning to use him as a Chandler Jones complementary pass rusher. The second hybrid linebacker to join the Cards as a first-round pick in the past two years, Collins is ticketed for an inside linebacker role alongside 2020 first-rounder Isaiah Simmons.

With the signing, the Cardinals have now inked the majority of their draft class:

Round 1: No. 16 Zaven Collins, LB (Tulsa) (signed)
Round 2: No. 49 Rondale Moore, WR (Purdue)
Round 4: No. 136 (from Ravens) Marco Wilson, CB (Florida) (signed)
Round 6: No. 210 (from Ravens) Victor Dimukeje, LB (Duke) (signed)
Round 6: No. 223 (from Vikings) Tay Gowan, CB (Central Florida) (signed)
Round 7: No. 243 James Wiggins, S (Cincinnati) (signed)
Round 7: No. 247 (from Bears through Raiders) Michal Menet, C (Penn State) (signed)

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NFC West Notes: Sherman, Seahawks, Cards

One of Richard Sherman‘s potential paths appears to have closed, with the Raiders having reunited Casey Hayward with DC Gus Bradley. This narrows the All-Pro cornerback’s suitor total. The 49ers may still be in play, despite Sherman indicating in February he would not be back.

There’s always a chance it could end up working back in the Bay, that I head back that way,” Sherman said Wednesday during an appearance on ESPN’s First Take (via NBC Sports Bay Area). “That’s another place I’m really comfortable going. Obviously know the staff, know the team well. Just spent time there and would be ecstatic if something happened there.”

Sherman added that a deal that would bring him back to San Francisco is unlikely to commence until late in the summer or perhaps in-season. The 49ers may, however, still possess a need for a boundary corner. The team re-signed Emmanuel Moseley and injury-prone Jason Verrett and used third- and fifth-round picks on corners. But a proven starter like Sherman could still be necessary. Sherman has also spoken with the Saints and Seahawks. Sherman, 33, still lives in the city and said Wednesday a second Seahawks stint would appeal to him. Pete Carroll, however, said the addition of another veteran cornerback is not on the team’s front-burner at this point, via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times.

Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • Despite Cardinals first-round pick Zaven Collins checking in at 270 pounds this offseason, the team is not planning to use him as a Chandler Jones complementary pass rusher. The second hybrid linebacker to join the Cards as a first-round pick in the past two years, Collins is ticketed for an inside linebacker role alongside 2020 first-rounder Isaiah Simmons. GM Steve Keim fashions Collins as a middle linebacker, via AZCardinals.com’s Darren Urban. Simmons, whom the Cards deployed as more of a hybrid player, did not assimilate immediately as a rookie and ended up playing less than 35% of the team’s defensive snaps last season. But the Cards will use Collins, who did work as more of a chess piece at Tulsa, off the ball to start his career. The Cardinals have invested plenty at the off-ball ‘backer spots in recent years, having stationed Haason Reddick there upon drafting him in the 2017 first round and signing Jordan Hicks last year.
  • Normally high on tall corners for their outside spots, the Seahawks deviated from that philosophy last season by playing 5-foot-9 D.J. Reed on the boundary. They will follow suit with fourth-round pick Tre Brown, who checks in at 5-10. “We would love to have big corners and all that,” GM John Schneider said, via ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson. “… But you have to adjust to the times, too, and there is only a certain amount of players that you can pick from.”
  • Although the Seahawks drafted tackle Stone Forsythe in Round 6, Schneider said he attempted to make a trade that would allow the team to select him in the fourth, via Henderson. Forsythe, who played at Florida, was the only O-lineman the Seahawks chose. Of course, the team only ended up making three picks this year.
  • Former 49ers third-round pick Jalen Hurd has not played in a regular-season game, despite being a 2019 draftee. The once-promising wideout has seen back and knee injuries sidetrack his career. While Hurd should not be considered a lock to play for the 49ers, due to his run of injuries, GM John Lynch expects him to be ready to go come camp, via Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News.

Cardinals Draft Tulsa LB Zaven Collins At No. 16

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At No. 16, the Cardinals selected Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins. Collins, long believed to be among Arizona’s top targets, will step in to the role previously filled by Haason Reddick.

The Cardinals were reportedly keeping their fingers crossed for Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain, Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, or South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn. In reality, those three players were probably higher on their board than Collins. Still, Collins is one heck of a consolation prize.

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Steelers Eyeing Zaven Collins, Najee Harris?

The Steelers are keeping their fingers crossed for linebacker Zaven Collins and running back Najee Harris, according to a source who spoke with Mike Florio of PFT. However, according to many prognosticators, both players are likely to be off the board by the time the Steelers make their pick at No. 24 overall.

[RELATED: “Doubtful” Steelers Will Trade Up From No. 24]

Earlier this week, Steelers GM Kevin Colbert threw cold water on the notion that the Steelers will trade up from their original first-round choice. Of course, things can always change, especially if the Steelers are truly locked in on Harris and Collins.

Harris is widely regarded as the best running back in this year’s draft. Initially buried on the depth chart, the Alabama product emerged as a junior with an average of 5.9 yards per tote. Then, he passed on the draft to turn in an even more impressive 2020 season. Harris helped the Tide capture yet another National Championship while racking up 1,466 yards on the ground with similar efficiency (5.8 ypc). Those totals, coupled with 43 grabs for 425 yards and 30 total touchdowns, positioned Harris as one of the strongest prospects in the ’21 class.

Unfortunately for the Steelers, both Harris and Collins have caught the attention of the Cardinals at No. 16. Collins, a Tulsa product, has been lauded for his versatility. In just eight games last year, Collins managed four sacks, 54 total stops, and 7.5 tackles for loss. With the ability to play as a pass rusher or pure linebacker, he’s been quietly moving up boards in recent weeks. On Thursday, we’ll find out if he’s out of the Steelers’ reach.

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Cardinals Eyeing CBs, Jaylen Waddle?

Quarterbacks and other top-10 prospects have dominated this year’s draft discussions, overshadowing the rest of this year’s class. The Cardinals hold pick No. 16 and are considering multiple paths, including one that involves a highly coveted pass catcher.

Arizona is interested in cornerbacks Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn, per ProFootballNetwork.com’s Tony Pauline, who adds the team is also eyeing Jaylen Waddle. However, it is quite possible all three of these players will be gone by the time the Cardinals go on the clock. This would point the Steve Keim-run team to a trade-up scenario.

The Cards gave A.J. Green a one-year, $6MM deal to see if he can rediscover his pre-2019 form. They have Christian Kirk, but he is going into a contract year and has not been especially consistent as a pro. Larry Fitzgerald remains unsigned and is expected to retire after 17 seasons. Waddle would certainly make for a flashy DeAndre Hopkins complementary piece, but the Cards would almost certainly have to trade up to land him.

Patrick Peterson defected to the Vikings in free agency, and although Arizona agreed to terms with Malcolm Butler, he is going into his age-31 season. The Cardinals have Byron Murphy signed through 2022 but could use additional help at corner. Surtain has been viewed as a player likely to go off the board in the top half of the first round for months, while Horn has made a late climb. However, Todd McShay’s latest ESPN.com mock has the South Carolina corner falling to the Cards at 16.

The team is believed to view linebacker Zaven Collins as a potential contingency plan, according to Pauline. A Tulsa product, Collins has a versatile skill set that could be utilized as a pass rusher or pure linebacker. The Cards going in this direction would be interesting, given Haason Reddick‘s struggles in a hybrid role for most of his Arizona tenure and the team’s selection of versatile ‘backer Isaiah Simmons in last year’s first round.

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