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Zaven Collins coming along slowly for the Arizona Cardinals should be no surprise

NFL: Houston Texans at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When the Arizona Cardinals drafted Zaven Collins in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft they made some waves.

Not because of the pick, but because they then proclaimed Collins the man and that he would start from day one.

That he did, on paper and then the season played out.

Collins has since been demoted, seen his playing time dip and there are those starting to wonder if he is a bust?

The short answer is no, he is not.

The longer answer is that there is a long history of day one group of five players taking time to acclimate to the NFL, even more than the normal rookie curve and that those talking about Collins, the staff of RotB and myself included should have pumped the breaks a bit.

You see, there is a big adjustment for every rookie coming in, but from a non-power five conference, where even if you are a great player your opponents are mostly guys getting ready for life after football.

It is not shocking that a guy from Tulsa, who didn’t really burst onto the scene until his junior season, who played in a 3-3-5 defense, is having to adjust to the NFL game, the speed and what he is seeing.

In fact, we don’t have to look to far back to see the adjustment for most players is tough.

Look at the last five drafts before 2021 and the non-power five players taken in round one.

2016: Carson Wentz, William Jackson III, Paxton Lynch, Vernon Butler
2017: Corey Davis, Haason Reddick
2018: Josh Allen, Marcus Davenport, Leighton Vander-Esch, Rashaad Penny, Mike Hughes
2019: Ed Oliver
2020: Jordan Love

There are a lot of good players listed here. I would say Vander-Esch is the only one who made a big impact as a rookie and he’s struggled to stay healthy since.

Jackson III, Davis, Reddick and Davenport all took a season to really find their footing.

We know about Wentz’s one great season and his struggles since and that Allen took two years to turn a corner.

Only Davenport, Vander-Esch and Oliver made “All Rookie” teams.

Only Allen, Wentz and Vander-Esch have made a Pro Bowl, one apiece.

Drafting from outside the Power Five is fine, you just have to understand that it is likely to come with some patience being needed. We know that most fans don’t have that.