If you would have polled Cards fans on what position the team should take with their 1st pick, inside linebacker would have finished close to last.
Top teams take the talent that falls to them, regardless of position. Arizona took who they thought was the best player available and you can’t really knock them for that (rumor is New England would have taken Collins at 15 had Mac Jones not fallen).
I think most have come to grips with the pick, now it’s the handling of him that many have a problem with.
Wanting to keep Hicks for depth at the very least, makes sense. In fact I think it was likely the team’s plan, since they didn’t trade him during the draft. Based on the timing, and Ian Rapoport’s verbiage, it seems Jordan Hicks is the one pushing for the trade.
So why aren’t teams lining up to get one of the cheapest starting linebackers in the league then? Because he’s just not very good.
Considering the way Simmons was handled I understand the head scratching, but you have to consider the circumstances. Not only was it a shortened offseason due to Covid, we’ve seen a steady decline from Hicks play over his past 3 seasons. Earning PFF grades of 75 in 2018, 61 in 2019, and an abysmal 50 last year.
Some have asked, “How was Simmons not an upgrade then??”
Simmons is an athletic freak and no doubt a physical upgrade over Hicks. The difference is the team had more faith in Hicks going into last year, and Collins has years of experience calling the defense and getting guys lined up. Simmons did not.
Let’s not pretend like this move is completely uncharted territory. Zaven will have to learn to run the defense as a rookie, like Kyler had to learn to run the offense as a 21 year old. There’s already reports of Vance Joseph spending extra time with Zaven at rookie mini camp, like Kliff did with Kyler his 1st offseason.
Zaven will also have the benefit of an abundance of elite talent around him (Chandler, JJ, Budda). While Kyler definitely did not in 2019.
We shouldn’t be so emotionally tied to a player that’s clearly upgradeable. This team has added 3 wins each season for the past 3 years, and with the upgrades they’ve made I expect that trend to continue.
Let me know your thoughts and share if you agree.