The 2021 NFL Draft is fast approaching, and it's a crucial one for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.
We all know they need to snag a quarterback this offseason, but there are holes that need to be filled up and down the roster. Another area to focus on during the Draft is the linebacker position, and there may be a match made in heaven.
Meet Zaven Collins, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound linebacker out of Tulsa. You'd be hard-pressed to find a LB more versatile than Collins in this year's Draft class, which makes him an intriguing option for the Patriots defense.
On a brand new episode of the Next Pats Podcast, Tulsa head coach Phil Montgomery joins Phil Perry to explain why Collins might be the perfect fit for New England.
"We played him at Will linebacker because we felt we could take advantage of his athleticism, his length and all of that," Montgomery told Perry. "From a drop standpoint into coverage, also from a blitz standpoint being able to bring him off the edge or bring him inside and do some different things with him and try to take advantage of all the different aspects of his game and how he developed them.
"You can play him at the Mike and for us, we just felt like we had a little bit more freedom at our Will linebacker and him matching up with a running back out of the backfield we felt really good about that, him matching up with the tight end, that's fine. But we really just felt like we were using the best of his abilities in the position that we made, and obviously he made the most of it."
That ability to thrive in any role at Tulsa is encouraging, but will his style translate to the pros?
"For us, Zaven fit in our defense where we played him. But I also think that translated to what the NFL coaches are actually looking for a guy to do," Montgomery said. "Is he big enough to play the defensive end side of it? Absolutely. Can he play the Will linebacker? Absolutely. Can he play the Mike linebacker? Absolutely. He played all of those spots for us in a variety of different senses throughout the years and flourished at those. And again, still learning and growing as he did that. So I think he is a can't-miss guy in my opinion."
Also discussed in the new episode: Belichick gets his new QB in Perry’s latest mock draft. Can the Patriots get a second-round pick for Stephon Gilmore? Breaking down Daniel Jeremiah’s latest mock draft, and answering your draft questions