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Cardinals see Zaven Collins playing next to Isaiah Simmons at inside linebacker

In 2020, the Cardinals used their first-round pick on a defensive player listed as a linebacker but talked about as a versatile piece who could play at multiple levels of the defense.

It took some time for the Cardinals to figure out how best to utilize Isaiah Simmons during his rookie season before settling on an inside linebacker spot. They’re more sure about where this year’s first-round pick will go.

Zaven Collins said he considers himself a chess piece who can move around the defense, but General Manager Steve Keim said that the team sees him as a “stack linebacker” who can play three downs and fits right in next to Simmons in the center of the defense.

“Playing side-by-side with Isaiah Simmons when you see those two guys in there with their length, it’s really like having two trees in the middle of the field,” Keim said, via the team’s website.

If all goes well for the Cardinals, those trees will be fixtures in the middle of the field for many years to come.