The NFL Scouting Combine is only a few days away as on-field workouts will begin on Friday, March 1st. It’s a special event for many draft fans and a time to discover great athletes and raw ability. It’s also an important opportunity for prospects to make their stock go way up, and sometimes watch it plummet. Personally, what I enjoy the most about the Combine is looking out for some relatively unknown names and see what they can do.
A few weeks ago, NFL.com analysts Daniel Jeremiah and Lance Zierlein published an article on which player each team should be watching when the Combine kicks off. For the Dallas Cowboys, the name listed was Defensive Lineman L.J. Collier.
During his time in college football, Collier lined up in a lot of positions for the TCU Horned Frogs. His production in 2018 was pretty solid, racking up 11.5 tackles for loss, four deflected passes and six sacks. He did this playing mainly as an edge defender but if the Dallas Cowboys consider him at some point in the NFL Draft, they should probably look at him as a defensive tackle.
Weighing in at 280 pounds, this is a legit way of looking at Collier. He’s got the size and has played in the interior before. When Rod Marinelli was in Chicago, he managed to handle Henry Melton’s transition from edge rusher to defensive tackle. Transitioning Collier from one position to the other could be an interesting possibility for the Cowboys.
Collier still has a long way to go and he shouldn’t be seen as a potential starter in the NFL. However, he could become an important rotational player at defensive tackle. I would be interested in his value as a pass rusher in obvious passing downs. Specially considering his impressive motor and just how competitive he is as a player.
Collier will have to put on an impressive showing at the NFL Scouting Combine if he wants to climb those rankings, though. Many scouts are concerned about his burst and flexibility and for good reason. Watching the film, he’s not what you want in a pass rusher. I believe he wouldn’t have a good time playing on the edge on Sundays. He’ll have a chance to change some minds in Indianapolis.
I’d expect Collier to be drafted in Day 3 of the 2019 NFL Draft. I’m convinced that as a late fourth round pick he’d be able to contribute for some NFL team as a rotational player. For the Dallas Cowboys, defensive tackle is one of the most pressing needs heading into next season. A need that should be addressed before the fourth round but could still be benefited from a player like Collier.