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Cowboys Best Defensive Lineman in 2017

There was one defensive lineman that really was impressive last year and my expectations for him this year are sky high. I’m talking about, #96, Maliek Collins, our 3 technique DT, out of Nebraska. Last year, Maliek suffered a broken foot in the first week of OTA’s and got in very little work in training camp. Frankly, when a defensive lineman suffers such an injury to a foot or lower leg, the year becomes nothing more than a red shirt season. Not the case this time! The team wanted to ease him into the rotation on the D Line but injury’s and suspensions to teammates forced him into significant snaps. Maliek wound up starting fourteen games. Undeterred by the injury Maliek went on to have a solid statistical year and became one of the  cornerstone pieces of the D Line. He had five sacks in 2016. Considering that the team lead was 6.5 by Benson Mayowa, it shows just how well he performed. Those five sacks ranked him seventh overall by a rookie last season and get this, “the” most by any rookie defensive tackle. Being that productive following a broken foot, which wiped out most of training camp, well, I’m sorry, that’s just downright impressive.

We had so many high profile players last year that there weren’t many props left for Collins, but there’s a chance after this season that he gets greater recognition. That below the radar persona also could be attributed to the more highly covered draft picks within the special Cowboys draft class of 2016. The focus had all eyes on first round pick & NFL leading rusher, Ezekiel Elliott.  The second round pick was the top five talent, Jaylon Smith and then the story of the NFL year, one Dak Prescott. There wasn’t a whole lot of  “pub” left for third round pick, Maliek Collins. If healthy, it’s my take that his play this year will only enhance the perception of the 2016 draft class. Six to eight sacks aren’t out of the realm of reality for this young man this season. In a rotational system employed by Marinelli, those numbers would have Rod doing a line dance down in Dallas!

His pursuit speed, whether vertical or to the side line, is equally impressive, which you can see in this first video. When you watch the second video below, catch Maliek when he’s part of a twist stunt. He is easily one of the best on the team at executing the art of a stunt or twist. Bryan Broaddus breaks down that tape, where Collins executes a twist to perfection. Its a short video, expertly diagrammed, don’t miss it.

You have to love when a lineman has a solid first year and can only benefit by the off season strength & conditioning program under Mike Wojick. Players go into year two and can take a great leap forward. Can hardly wait to see his development this year! Keep an eye on him and enjoy this mans work. I’ll be watching him closely in Oxnard!






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