The Cardinals let LB Jordan Hicks walk in free agency this offseason, clearing the way for LB Zaven Collins to enter the starting lineup in Year 2. He has been working there so far in training camp. According to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, Collins and Nick Vigil have been the starting ILBs in the base defense. Collins has called plays in the huddle at times (green dot) but is also coming off the field in nickel and dime packages. "He's got to be able to diagnose it, see it and go, and not wait on the play to come to him," HC Kliff Kingsbury says. "I think last year he was kind of waiting for everything to unwind. I think he's still learning, but there's no doubt he's reacting faster than last year at this time." There's still time for Collins to earn more of a 3-down role, but we've moved him down our 2022 IDP rankings. The role uncertainty makes him a boom/bust fantasy option. Isaiah Simmons, meanwhile, has shifted to the "star" LB role, which will move him around the formation. Somers writes that he "seems to have a role in every package."
The Cardinals selected Tulsa LB Zaven Collins with the 16th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Collins is enormous, at 6’5, 259, but his 4.71-second 40 time gives him a 70th-percentile speed score among LBs. Collins made plays regularly in the backfield, logging 25 tackles for loss over his 32 games. He added 8 career passes defensed, with 4 INTs in 2020 alone (8 games). Collins could immediately challenge the roles of either 2020 first-rounder Isaiah Simmons or EDGE Devon Kennard. Simmons never settled into a regular role as a rookie and could remain a moving piece. We'll see what Arizona reveals about its plan.
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