3 reasons Zaven Collins would be a better pick for Steelers than Najee Harris

Zaven Collins #23 of the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Zaven Collins #23 of the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /
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Tulsa Golden Hurricane linebacker Zaven Collins (23). Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports /

Collins could make a bigger difference from day one

Much like Alex Highsmith, Zaven Collins would be asked to make a big jump in the level of competition he is facing. However, being a player who has worked as hard as he has to get where he is, I don’t foresee this being an issue. Though the Steelers may not want to take a non-Power 5 player with their first selection (as history would suggest), Collins could prove to be worth this pick.

There aren’t many players out there who move as effortlessly as Collins at his size. He has an extremely rare combination of power, speed, and hip fluidity – which is why he is so spectacular in coverage in addition to everything else. Because the Steelers already have a good defense and a terrific defensive line, it won’t be hard for a player as talented and football savvy as Collins to find success from the get-go. Whether he is playing the Buck linebacker role or edge defender, players like T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, and Stephon Tuitt are going to draw a bulk of the attention – leaving Collins favorable opportunities to shoot gaps and excel at what he does best.

Najee Harris is a different story. Though Harris is clearly an upgrade over any of the running backs the Steelers currently have on their roster, it’s unreasonable to expect him to be very successful from the gate. Pittsburgh just lost three starting offensive linemen this offseason, and this was a unit that finished 31st in the league in run blocking rank last year, according to Pro Football Focus. I have no doubts that Najee Harris would get a plethora of touches, but it’s going to be tough sledding no matter what in 2021.