LB Zaven Collins ‘someone to watch’ for the Cardinals in 2022

For the second consecutive season, many Arizona Cardinals fans were left frustrated with the team’s seeming to play their first-round pick inside linebacker. We saw a big second-year leap from 2020 No. 8 overall pick Isaiah Simmons, though he did not get a ton of playing time during his rookie season.

With the Cardinals opting to release three-year starter and team captain Jordan Hicks, the defense is going to need someone else to step up at that position. The projected man for that job is 2021 No. 16 overall selection Zaven Collins, who did not have many opportunities last season.

NFL Network analyst Jim Trotter mentioned Collins as a player that will be essential to the defense’s chances of improving from last season, particularly with the loss of standout edge rusher Chandler Jones.

“One player specifically that they are calling on to step up their game this year will be second year linebacker Zaven Collins,” he said, via “After the final 10 (games), there were eight games in which he didn’t take 10 percent or more of the snaps.”

Trotter points out what has frustrated Cardinals fans with their back-to-back first-round inside linebacker selections. In the team’s blowout loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the wild card round, Collins was riding the bench in favor of Tanner Vallejo, one of the team’s special teams aces.

The team added former Vikings ILB Nick Vigil this offseason, but all signs point to Collins being the starting ‘mike’ linebacker. His development for the team is crucial, particularly given his need to call the defense from Vance Joseph.

We saw a big second year jump from Isaiah Simmons in year two. Could we see the same from Collins? The Cardinals certainly hope so.


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