2021 NFL Draft OLB rankings: Zaven Collins tops Micah Parsons for top spot

Zaven Collins, Arizona Cardinals, 2021 NFL Draft (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Zaven Collins, Arizona Cardinals, 2021 NFL Draft (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /
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Zaven Collins, 2021 NFL Draft prospect
Zaven Collins 2021 NFL Draft prospect Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2021 NFL Draft has five outside linebackers who have top 50 grades which makes it one of the more talented classes in recent memory.

The group is surprisingly led by Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins who is a more complete linebacker than Penn State’s Micah Parsons. A sleeper to watch in this group is Patrick Johnson of Tulane.

1. Zaven Collins, Tulsa
6-foot-3, 260 pounds
2021 NFL Draft grade: First round

Zaven Collins is a prospect who came out of nowhere to become a star in college football. Coming out of high school the only FBS school to offer him a scholarship was Tulsa. He took a redshirt his first season on campus but has been an impact player ever since.

Over his career, he has registered 236 tackles in just three seasons. The best year of his college career was last season when he won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy after making 54 tackles, intercepting four passes, and recording four sacks.

What makes Collins such a promising prospect is his ability to help out in all areas of the game. As a pass rusher, he has good timing and has the agility to get around the edge.

When it comes to run defense Collins is a sure tackler who hits with good power. However, the area he really excels in is pass coverage. He shows great awareness in this area and was the highest-graded linebacker in Pro Football Focus history when it came to coverage.

Even though Collins is the top outside linebacker in the 2021 NFL Draft he does have some weaknesses. One of these is that he is not the most explosive athlete and shows only average quickness overall. He also can work on getting off blocks better which would make him an even stronger defender vs the run.

While Collins will likely not be the top outside linebacker drafted he has the versatility and overall football IQ to become the best of the bunch. Collins will likely hear his name called in the later parts of the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.