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Could Maliek Collins be a Week 1 Starter?

This year Dallas selected Maliek Collins, a defensive tackle out of Nebraska, with their third-round pick. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli was audibly excited about the selection, telling Collins that he “fit us to a T.” An immediate scheme fit is a great thing for any rookie, but especially with the opportunity that presents itself on the defensive line. With defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory facing suspensions to start the year, Dallas will be looking for the best temporary solutions. They have several DE options in free agent addition Benson Mayowa and returning players David Irving, Jack Crawford, and Ryan Russell.

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Headlines - Could Maliek Collins be a Week 1 Starter?

This year Dallas selected Maliek Collins, a defensive tackle out of Nebraska, with their third-round pick. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli was audibly excited about the selection, telling Collins that he "fit us to a T." An immediate scheme fit is a great thing for any rookie, but especially with the opportunity that presents itself on the defensive line.

With defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory facing suspensions to start the year, Dallas will be looking for the best temporary solutions. They have several DE options in free agent addition Benson Mayowa and returning players David Irving, Jack Crawford, and Ryan Russell. They also just drafted Oklahoma's Charles Tapper in the fourth round.

Another possibility is that Tyrone Crawford, typically the three-technique defensive tackle, could play on the edge to start the season. He played defensive end when the Cowboys ran a 3-4 scheme and has the athleticism to do it now. This would open the door wide for Collins, who also projects as a three-technique, to potentially start as early as Week One.

Can Collins contribute so quickly? Third-round picks are probably the biggest "mixed bag" in the draft. Plenty of future starters and even star players have come from their ranks. Others have quickly fallen right out of the league. Just look at the last 10 years:

  • Cowboys Draft - The Dallas Cowboys Select Maliek Collins at #672006 - Jason Hatcher, DL
  • 2007 - James Marten, OT
  • 2009 - Jason Williams, LB
  • 2009 - Robert Brewster, OT
  • 2011 - DeMarco Murray, RB
  • 2012 - Tyrone Crawford, DL
  • 2013 - J.J. Wilcox, S
  • 2013 - Terrance Williams, WR
  • 2015 - Chaz Green, OT

Marten, Brewster, and Jason Williams were all quickly scrapped. Hatcher, Murray, and Crawford became household names. Guys like Wilcox and Williams have been solid but often leave you wanting more. We're still waiting to see what happens with Green.

With coaches always wanting to find ways to get their best talent on the field at all times, Collins will have every opportunity. Tyrone Crawford and Cedric Thornton are all but locked in as the starters at defensive tackle but Crawford's versatility will present the Cowboys with options.

Even if it's only four the weeks that Lawrence is suspended, Collins could be an immediate factor in the 2016 defense. Guys like Hatcher and Crawford didn't hit the ground running in the NFL but also were having to adjust to the 3-4 scheme. As Marinelli said, Collins will enter Dallas already acclimated to their system.

If Collins contributes early then that will only open the door for more reps as the season goes on, even after the suspended players return. Marinelli loves his rotations and packages and the front office loves it when drafted players deliver. Collins will get every rep he can handle over guys like Terrell McClain, David Irving, and Jack Crawford as long as he's yielding good results.

If Marinelli's excitement was any indication, Collins has a good chance to produce.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?

Sean Martin

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Despite Late Push in Year One, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See the Field in 2018? 1
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

It feels like ages ago that the Dallas Cowboys spent the 28th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft on Michigan Defensive End Taco Charlton. Perhaps this is a result of the constant distancing fans have made from this unpopular pick, or the corresponding moves the Cowboys have made at DE since drafting Charlton.

These moves include using the franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence after seeing him explode for 14.5 sacks, spending a fourth round pick this year on Kansas' Dorance Armstrong, and seeing Randy Gregory reinstated in time for training camp.

Across the entirety of the Cowboys roster, there will be plenty of "odd men out" that miss the cut down to 53 players. Defensive end remains one of the most cluttered spots on the current 90 man roster however.

Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?

Dallas Cowboys DE Taco Charlton, DT Maliek Collins (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

Prior to establishing the depth the Cowboys now have up front on defense, they did Taco no favors by starting his career at right defensive end. While Gregory may still be a long way from earning the starting role here, similarly styled players like Armstrong have the edge here over Charlton.

This relegates Charlton to the strong side, where he always projected best out of college. By the time the Cowboys realized this a season ago, they also knew a franchise pass rusher was playing his way into the team's long-term plans.

Lawrence's stellar consistency off the edge reduced Charlton's role in the Cowboys rotation of pass rushers. An ideal spot for the rookie to develop with less pressure on him, Charlton's opportunities to continue playing left end may only be reduced this season.

The first-round pick is capable of kicking inside at defensive tackle, a position the Cowboys could certainly use help at. However, asking Charlton to go through another position shift would only halt the progress that took quite a bit of patience from Dallas to see.

It's far from unheard of for the Cowboys to do this with their young players, but for now Charlton remains a defensive end looking to make his impact. The Cowboys are in much better position now than they were at this time a year ago when it comes to setting expectations for him to do so.

Given everything he showed on tape at Michigan as well as in his pre-draft interviews, Charlton is a player that needs to succeed at the task at hand. When this plan is altered, the 6'6" pass rusher is much less effective -- without even considering any athletic struggles that Charlton has compared to other prototypes at defensive end.

As a unit, the Cowboys defensive line has all the pieces to be very effective this season. Taco Charlton is a piece to this puzzle, a backup left end that must find a way to flourish in this role.

For most former 28th overall picks, doing so would be considered a fall from grace. For the Cowboys, it's simply an example of strong roster building that's forced life to come at Charlton quickly. How he responds with a full season under his belt will make or break the hype this deep Cowboys defensive line has garnered, lead of course by the starter at Charlton's position in DeMarcus Lawrence.

Tell us what you think about "Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp

Sean Martin

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Will the Dallas Cowboys "Get Lucky" at Defensive End?

The Dallas Cowboys patience with Defensive End Randy Gregory has paid off. Suspended for the better part of 2016 and all of 2017, Gregory has officially been reinstated to join the team for their 2018 training camp. The projected starter at RDE, Gregory will report to Oxnard with the rest of the team on July 25th.

From here, it will be all hard work for Gregory to reconnect with Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli and get his promising career back on track. The last time Gregory suited up for the Cowboys, he managed to sack Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz in a week 17 win. The Cowboys will be expecting much more of this from a player they've supported through multiple violations of the league's heavily criticized substance abuse policy.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys pass-rusher Randy Gregory's petition for reinstatement was not opposed, according to lawyer Daniel Moskowitz. He's back. "I've never been more proud of any individual in my life. I'm very excited for Randy and his daughter and the rest of the his family.

Among this support staff for Gregory were a number of teammates that wrote formal letters to the NFL as part of his bid for reinstatement. These last few days of preparation before the Cowboys are together again as a team will surely be uplifted by Gregory's presence.

They say no news is typically good news at this point in the offseason, something the Cowboys have come to realize far too often. Today's news shouldn't be confused with a pleasant surprise however, rather something the Cowboys were committed to in getting another premier pass rusher on the field.

Here is the NFL's official press release on their reinstatement of Randy Gregory:

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

https://t.co/za0u3lWgaY

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Cowboys & DeMarcus Lawrence Fail to Reach New Contract

Jess Haynie

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Which 2018 Free Agents Will The Cowboys Retain? 1
Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportwire

DeMarcus Lawrence will definitely be a Cowboy in 2018, but now the future  beyond that remains in question. The Dallas Cowboys and their star defensive end did not agree to a long-term contract by today's deadline for franchise-tagged players.

According to NFL rules, teams had until 4:00 pm EST today to reach contract extensions with free agents who'd been assigned the franchise tag earlier this offseason. Players who did not get new deals will have to play the 2018 season on their one-year franchise tenders.

Jon Machota on Twitter

DeMarcus Lawrence and the Cowboys were unable to work out a long-term contract by today's deadline. Lawrence will play the 2018 season under a one-year franchise tag that will pay him $17.1 million

This does not mean Lawrence will be a free agent in 2019. The two parties can still discuss the contract in the months to come, but the deal cannot be made until after the end of the regular season.

Dallas also has the option of giving DeMarcus a second franchise tag next year. However, that would come at a considerably higher price for a second-straight season.

This year, Lawrence will still make plenty with one of the highest cap hits of any DE in the league. He earned the franchise tag last with 14.5 sacks in a breakout season.

Today's news may not really be a big deal in the long run. As long as Tank wants to stay in Dallas after this, the two sides now have over five months to keep talking and will hopefully agree on a new deal for 2019 and beyond.

There is risk on both sides, of course.

Lawrence's leverage could be less if his productions drops or he gets injured. On the other hand, his position could be even stronger with a second-straight year of strong play.

Now everyone, from the team to player to fans, is in wait-and-see mode until the end of the season.



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