It took them until pick 67, but the Dallas Cowboys finally addressed the defensive line. The team just bolstered their interior line by adding the big 3-tech defensive tackle from Nebraska, Maliek Collins. The 311-pound anchor from Nebraska plays low to the ground and is able to keep his pad level down to create the leverage he needs to get good penetration. He exhibits great surge off the line. For a big guy, he does a good job creating pressure and infiltrating the backfield.
Collins is a player who is suited to a 1-gap defense that likes its tackles to get upfield. He has athleticism and good feet, but he's not tall or with long arms, so he's more of a penetrator with quickness for a guy his size. Collins actually had a better 2014 season than he did 2015, that year he had 13 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.
Collins will join an interior line that features Tyrone Crawford and free agent addition Cedric Thornton. While Crawford offers up pass rush ability and Thornton is more of a run stopper, the addition of Collins gives them a little bit of both. He graded out 10th against the run and 11th in pass rushing. The Cowboys will now have an upgrade to the 584 snaps that Nick Hayden played last year. Rod Marinelli has been dealt a variety of different defensive tackles to work with over the last few years, but now he'll get one of the young ones in this strong DT draft class.
Here are a couple reports on Collins:
Lance Zierlein (NFL.com)
Explosive get-off with good pad level. Has exceptional lateral movement and overall athleticism for the position. Moved around defensive line as rusher and allowed to stand to maximize athleticism as twister. Good coordination between hands and feet. Strong jump step and club move inside is his go-to rush. Flashes an impressive ceiling when it's clicking for him. Initial quickness opens door for disruption. Plus motor with active hands.
Has very little scheme or position flexibility. Ends up on the ground all the time. Impact production doesn't match the athletic ability and talent. Square rusher missing hip swivel and upper body turn to improve penetration. Comes flying in as pass rusher on twists, but doesn't have workable counterattack ready. Unable to stack and anchor against double teams. Doesn't have play strength to fight back against redirect blocks.
Dane Bugler (CBS.com)
STRENGTHS: Outstanding athlete for the position with light feet, smooth hips and above average body control, using his initial surge and active hand use to rip and pull through bodies. Collins has an explosive first step to generate pop at the point of attack, adjusting after contact to locate and mirror the ball.
WEAKNESSES: Lacks the brute strength to overwhelm his opponent in tight spaces and most blockers can match him power-for-power. Easily moved by double-teams and can be washed out of the hole by angle blocks. Stuck on blocks too long. Still developing his counter moves, struggling if he doesn't win with his initial step. Will overrun the pocket and needs to better control his momentum in tight spaces. Needs to better protect his lower body off the snap. Scheme-specific and lacks desired versatility.