The Steelers did not send their top brass to Tulsa’s pro day on Friday, but were still on hand to witness an impressive performance from promising linebacker prospect Zaven Collins.
The Steelers sent scout Kelvin Fisher and assistant outside linebackers coach Denzel Martin to Tulsa to watch Collins, who is a potential fit for the Steelers with the No. 24 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft and has been repeatedly linked to the Steelers in mock drafts.
Collins checked in a at 6-foot-4, 260 pounds and ran a 4.67 40-yard dash, ling with a 35-inch vertical jump, a 10-foot-2-inch broad jump and 19 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press.
That puts him just about in line with the numbers put up by former Steelers inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons during his combine. Like Timmons, Collins is looked at by many as an outside linebacker, but the Steelers certainly have a greater need inside after the departure of longtime starter Vince Williams.
The team does have a depth need at outside linebacker, where the cupboard is relatively bare behind All-Pro T.J. Watt and presumptive starter Alex Highsmith.
Collins could be a potential fit at both spots, but it’s telling that Martin and not inside linebackers coach Jerry Olsavksy made the trip to Tulsa to see him work out. Olsavksy did visit with Missouri’s Nick Bolton, another inside linebacker that’s been connected to the Steelers at No. 24 overall.
If the Steelers were to draft Collins, it would be a significant departure from one of their most enduring draft trends. The team has picked just one player from a non-Power Five conference in the first round in the last 20 years, when they took quarterback Ben Roethlisberger out of Miami (Ohio). But perhaps the success Highsmith had as a rookie out of Charlotte could change some opinions within the organization.