The Dallas Cowboys continue to find that play maker on the defensive side of the ball.
When the Cowboys selected Maliek Collins in the third-round of the 2016 NFL draft, they had hoped that he could become an impact player for the defensive line. The former Nebraska interior defensive lineman not only had an impact during his rookie season, he proved that the Cowboys have a play maker for the future on the interior of the defensive line.
Per profootballspot.com, Collins posted a five-sack rookie campaign, it was the Cowboys third highest for a rookie since the state became official. The only two players ahead of him were Jimmie Jones in 1990 and DeMarcus Ware in 2005.
The Cowboys will see a familiar sight with a key member of their defensive line missing the early part of the season with a suspension. Up and coming star David Irving has a suspension looming and the Cowboys will have to rely even more on players like Collins to pick up the slack early in the season. Collins is the perfect tight of defensive tackle that defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli covets to lead on the inside.
Even with the nice rookie season that Collins had, he still was not pleased with his play in his first season.
“[My goal is to] be the best player I can be so that I always keep improving,” Collins said. “That’s how I set my goals. I don’t really do it statistically. Then you’re out there chasing stats. The goal is to improve every day. If I ‘m not improving every day then I’m doing something wrong.”
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) June 23, 2017
If Collins can just match his sack total as a rookie, he not only will help current rookie Taco Charlton, he will also help a defensive unit that is desperate for play makers on the front four. The young kids on this defensive line might be looking to make names for themselves, but they might be able to finally help Demarcus Lawrence become that elite pass rusher that they had hoped he would become when they used a second-round pick on him a few years ago.
If you remember correctly, the Cowboys have toyed with the idea of using Charles Tapper at defensive end, with rookie Taco Charlton next to him on the interior of the line. It would also allow Lawrence to move back to the left side where he seems more comfortable at. With a defensive line that consists of Lawrence and Tapper on the edge, and Collins and Charlton on the inside, the Cowboys might finally have the group of guys they have been looking for.
Hopefully the rookie season of Collins was just the beginning of his growth and impact on this Dallas defensive line!