new york giants film room zaven collins
Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

Could the Giants reach and draft Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins at No. 11? Maybe he drops to the second round?

Zaven Collins Info

  • LB, Tulsa
  • 6-foot-4, 260 pounds
  • Second-team All-AAC in 2019
  • First-team All-AAC in 2020
  • Unanimous All-American in 2020
  • AAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2020
  • 2020 Chuck Bednarik Award for the top defensive player in the country per the Maxwell Football Club
  • 2020 Bronko Nagurski Trophy for the top defensive player in the country per the Football Writers Association of America
  • 2020 Lombardi Award for the top college football player in the country per the Lombardi Foundation
  • 2019 Stats (12 games): 97 total tackles (51 solo), eight tackles for loss, two sacks, three pass breakups, one fumble recovery
  • 2020 Stats (eight games): 54 total tackles (36 solo), 7.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, four interceptions (two pick-sixes), two pass breakups, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery

How Zaven Collins would Fit into the Roster

Blake Martinez is the star inside linebacker on this roster — that’s already known. He was one of the top players on this defense last season and should continue to be in 2021.

Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham could thus utilize a matchup-based rotation at the other inside linebacker spot in a 3-4 scheme — Zaven Collins would be a great fit for that type of situation.

He, the recently re-signed Devante Downs, and pending second-year man Tae Crowder would be reliable complements to Martinez, and if he became more accustomed to the speed of the game as time progressed, there’s a chance Collins would then locate a more significant on-field role.

Collins is additionally capable of finding success as a pass rusher, so there’s a chance Graham could also include him in the outside linebacker/edge rusher rotation.

Check out ESNY’s other New York Giants Film Room pieces by clicking here.

Zaven Collins Film Room Notes

Collins and Tulsa’s October 2020 win over UCF (10 total tackles, seven solo tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one interception, two pass breakups)

Utilizing his great speed and vision, Collins takes a great angle on the pursuit of the UCF ball carrier from the opposite side of the field.

A highlight reel play from Collins here, who snags the ball out of the air for the early-game interception.

Collins’ great footwork and composure prevent him from over-running the ball carrier on this tackle for loss — he doesn’t fall victim to a move behind the line.

Collins, however, must do a better job breaking down on this play in order to successfully execute the sack of the UCF quarterback.

With great vision and speed, Collins is able to locate an open path to the ball carrier and quickly meet him in the backfield for the tackle in the end zone.

In this clip, Collins portrays his pass-defending skills with the deflection at the goal line.

Collins and Tulsa’s November 2020 win over Tulane (15 total tackles, eight solo tackles, .5 tackles for loss, 96-yard pick-six)

Collins must take a better angle on this play — he misses the tackle of the Tulane ball carrier.

Zaven keeps his composure and takes a great angle in pursuit of the Tulane quarterback. Ultimately, Collins realizes the 3rd-&-long situation and doesn’t initially fly up as the quarterback tucks and runs.

Collins’ speed prevents the Tulane receiver from turning upfield following the reception.

A pro-level play from Collins here; he breaks down, keeps the feet running, and executes a great open-field tackle.

He portrays the same aforementioned qualities on the above play.

And finally, the ultimate highlight reel-type play from Collins, who implements great vision to quickly locate the ball for the interception. Thereafter, the speed assists in the game-winning 96-yard pick-six.


Simply speaking, Collins is a true playmaker. He’s a tackling machine from the inside linebacker spot but one that can also succeed on the pass-rushing and pass-defending fronts. This type of versatility would attract both Joe Judge and Patrick Graham and lead to them plugging him into a number of different roles on the defensive side of the ball (if the organization was to draft him).

Could the Giants potentially reach for him at No. 11 overall?

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.