4. NY Jets draft target: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Tulsa’s Zaven Collins is one the most versatile, unique prospects in this year’s class.
A three-year starter, Collins received honors in each year of his college career being named Freshman All-American in 2018, second-team All-AAC in 2019, and AAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2020.
At nearly 6-foot-5, 259 pounds, Collins has outstanding size for the linebacker position, but he combines that impressive stature with above-average speed, athleticism, and lateral mobility.
He’s shown the ability to lock down tight ends in coverage while also being an effective blitzer and run defender. He can do it all — and one look at his stat sheet from a year ago will tell you that.
Collins led his team in tackles (53), tackles for loss (11.5), sacks (4.5), and interceptions (four) all in just eight games. It was no surprise to see him earn the Bronko Nagurski Trophy at the end of the year, awarded to the nation’s best defensive player.
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Collins projects as a versatile linebacker who can fit in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. Jets’ head coach Robert Saleh would be able to deploy Collins as a strong-side linebacker, off-ball linebacker in the nickel, and even as an edge rusher from time to time.
He’d be a three-down starter with the potential to develop into one of the most important pieces in the Jets’ defense. But with so many other needs, would they really consider drafting a linebacker at pick 23?
Likely not, but it all depends on how the board falls. Collins could be a rock-solid “plan B” if the Jets miss out on their favorite cornerbacks and offensive linemen.
And you could do a lot worse than adding a versatile playmaker to your defense.
Next: 3. Kadarius Toney