Training camp is just around the corner and there will be a number of players we are looking forward to watching when it opens for the Dallas Cowboys. Pet cats aren’t just for the draft, they can also be used for camp when you’re excited to watch a certain player and for me, that player is Maliek Collins.
Dallas’ defense has been called the weakness of the team and while the same held true before last season, it was a unit that overachieved. One of the reasons for that was the play of Collins, who played extremely well as a rookie. Collins was second on the team in sacks with five, a very good number for a first-year pass rusher who plays inside.
For reference, here are just a few other prominent defensive tackles’ rookie sack totals.
Warren Sapp had three in his first season, as did Geno Atkins and Gerald McCoy in their rookie years, Tommie Harris had 3.5, while freak shows Aaron Donald had nine and Ndamukong Suh had 10 respectively. That puts Collins in the middle of some impressive company to start his career.
This was done, mind you, after Collins missed almost all of training camp with a foot injury. He worked his way into shape during the season and wound up taking away playing time from veterans Tyrone Crawford and Cedric Thornton, a player who the Cowboys signed to a modest contract in free agency last year.
Collins comes into year two with a full off-season of work with Rod Marinelli and a spot firmly entrenched as the team’s best three-technique tackle. It’s a position that Marinelli makes stars out of, and his prize pupil as always been Sapp. The Hall of Fame defensive tackle was listed at 6-2, 303 pounds; Collins comes in at 6-2 and 305.
That is not to say that Collins can be compared to Sapp, that is a long way off, but Marinelli’s scheme works best with good edge rushers on the outside, as well as a dominant player on the inside. If Collins continues to mature as a player, it would be a huge lift to the defense and a sluggish pass rush. Collins could be the piece that Marinelli has lacked since he arrived in Dallas and Collins is certainly the best three-technique he’s had since becoming the team’s defensive coordinator.
Maliek Collins is still a work in progress but the potential is there. He is just 22-years old and should build on a successful rookie season to become the next big-time three-technique player for Rod Marinelli. Collins looks like a major piece of the defensive puzzle for the Dallas Cowboys and you should expect one heck of a season from the young defensive tackle.
Mark Collins down as one of the players to watch in training camp, and beyond. Jump on-board the hype train now, seats are filling up fast.
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