CLEVELAND, Ohio — Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins has previously envisioned what it would be like exploding off the edge with Myles Garrett.
“Yeah, that quarterback’s probably in issues,’’ Collins said on a Zoom convention Thursday on the eve of his Pro Working day.
1 of the players the Browns have scouted for their No. 26 pick, Collins sees some similarities in between himself and Garrett, who finished sixth in the NFL with 12 sacks.
“Yeah, so he’s a larger dude way too. He’s a minimal bit even bigger than me and he moves properly, bends all-around the corner,’’ Collins claimed. “We’re honestly in two diverse positions but [he has a] fantastic motor, excellent information of the game, phenomenal athlete. He’s just received God-provided capabilities that you just cannot argue with God, so that is what puts him above a whole lot of individuals, in addition his work ethic.’’
Despite growing up in tiny Hominy, Oklahoma, inhabitants 3,565, Collins wasn’t substantially of a Baker Mayfield admirer due to the fact they have been so shut in age. When Collins was starring at quarterback, linebacker and protection in superior college — top his team to a 14- document and the Course A state title as a senior — Mayfield was lighting it up for the Sooners.
“Baker was in fact just a couple many years more mature than me, so I was in no way genuinely like a fan,’’ Collins explained. “My redshirt yr and his very last 12 months, we ended up in university at the exact same time, so I under no circumstances obtained to be a supporter. But I was a lover of people today from OU like Adrian Peterson, Sam Bradford, Gerald McCoy, Sterling Shepard, some other large wideouts and operating backs, some persons like that.”
But Collins can turn out to be a Mayfield lover in a hurry if the Browns draft him.
“I’ve been in get hold of with the Browns a little bit,’’ Collins mentioned. “I really like the business. I enjoy the system. I adore all the coaches there. I imagine it’s just a single of these matters like I have no selection. Anywhere I’m likely to go, I’m likely to healthy in simply because I know I will. I have finished it each and every time in my existence.
“I like to be all over folks, appreciate individuals, make people’s working day superior and it looks like they have that going in their method currently. They’ve completely improved the culture the past pair yrs, and it appears like a great plan.”
If the Browns get in touch with his name, their very first make contact with will have to be by phone. He’s resolved not to show up at the draft in Cleveland, April 29-May possibly 1.
“I’m likely to do it at house with household, all my mates about me,’’ he explained. “I’m positive that air will be so thick and then every time you are ready on your name to be named, you will be able to reduce it with a knife. It’s likely to be fairly outrageous that working day, but it’s some thing I glance forward to.”
A redshirt junior, Collins’ inventory skyrocketed in 2020 when he dominated each individual sport en route to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy awarded to the nation’s most effective defender. In spite of an abbreviated eight-recreation period, he registered 54 tackles, 11 1/2 for a reduction, 4 sacks, four interceptions, two forced fumbles and a restoration.
“We received a likelihood to play (amid the pandemic) and I went out and just went crazy and my draft stock sort of went up from (round) 5 or six to three and then it jumped up to a person and I was kinda like, ‘oh, male, this bought out of hand speedy,’” he said.
By the finish of the season, the 1st spherical was his aim, and now he’s upped the ante.
“I want to be furthermore-20 decide on, in addition-15 select,’’ he mentioned. “I’m absolutely sure some people will say I’m outrageous, but it is just a thing I have to established for myself to continue to keep me likely, to continue to keep me pushed.’’
Collins, frequently projected as a 3-4 outside the house linebacker, believes he will excel in any scheme and at numerous positions. Browns defensive coordinator Joe Woods will run a great deal of his favored 4-2-5 alignment this time.
“I [tell teams] any posture that allows me to operate, move freely, not confine me to truly one particular side, to permit me be really associated in the defense is what is going to most effective fit me mostly due to the fact I just have a knack for the football, I like staying all around the football, like remaining capable to run,’’ he explained. “So in some defenses it is pretty ideal for me to be in the exterior linebacker posture and in some defenses it’s not so ideal since you are strictly generally like a hurry close. But it is anything I’m open up to.”
Joe Marino, senior draft analyst for The Draft Community, had the utmost praise for Collins.
“Collins delivers an exciting blend of measurement, duration, energy, football intelligence, and flexibility that makes him a dynamic prospect for the NFL,’’ he wrote. “Whether it is defending the operate, dropping into protection, or speeding the passer, Collins has the requisite skill set demanded to execute and was arguably the most dynamic defensive playmaker in college or university football for the 2020 year.
“He shown notable advancement in 2020, turning out to be a full defender and creating higher-impact, clutch plays seemingly each individual week. The [Bill] Belichick disciples and groups that deploy that type of protection are probably salivating in excess of Collins’ ability set and he assignments as an effect defender in the NFL that can make performs in a selection of techniques.’’
Collins mentioned that he does not truly have a comp in the NFL “because most linebackers like me have disappeared. Brian Urlacher is almost certainly my dimensions and some other kinds, but as far as accurate men and women my size, they’re usually on the edge dashing.
“If you go watch the film, I occur off the edge on 3rd down, or I can sink into coverage. I can be in gentleman-protection on third and very long or I can be coming by the middle on a blitz anytime it is third and short. I do all of people issues just for the reason that our defense authorized it to take place.’’
NFL draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah has Collins rated as his 24th best participant on his board, “so he’s in my leading 32 for confident. The only issue is, the instincts are great, not great, not like an elite amount we have found with Devin White or Devin Bush, some leading linebackers that have arrive out over the previous couple of years.
“[But] what tends to make him so exclusive is this is a 6-4, 260-pound offer that’s accomplishing all this stuff. He’s actually superior in coverage. Zaven Collins presents you a whole lot of diverse possibilities with items you can do with him.’’
Elevated by a one mother “in the center of nowhere,” Collins prides himself on his simple way of living.
“My track record is basically old college,’’ he claimed. “I’m from a compact town. … I like to be outside. I like to enjoy relatives, pals, church on Sundays. That’s essentially what I am. I have been lifted that way for my whole lifestyle, and I seriously really do not strategy on changing.’’
His tiny-city roots, even so, price tag him a opportunity at a powerhouse college or university: he experienced only two features coming out, from Tulsa and Central Oklahoma.
“They told me that I had all the tangibles,’’ he said. “I was valedictorian, I experienced a wonderful ACT score, all my grades were being appropriate, I had no off-industry challenges. Everything was fantastic, I performed properly more than enough, they just mentioned that my school was as well smaller and my level of competitors was not large more than enough to translate more than to the D-I stage and they did not want to consider a chance on a dude like me. So, yeah, I kinda told some of people people to p— off.’’
The snubs continue to generate him currently as he heads into his pro working day and the draft.
“I’ve experienced a ton of coaches tell me I wasn’t great plenty of just dependent my university dimensions,’’ he explained. “I’m drained of staying the small man, so it’s time that we sort of produced a assertion for Tulsa and place them back again on the map mainly because we’re just as excellent as anyone else out there in concerning the hashes.’’
And as for Collins, he’s shaping up to be far better than most.
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