In search of defensive line talent during the 2019 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys have been linked publicly to TCU Horned Frogs lineman LJ Collier in multiple mock drafts.
Collier is a 6’2″ 283 pound college defensive end who may struggle at first to find a true position in the NFL. Despite his flaws, the Cowboys interest in him makes sense because of the type of player he is and the level of effort he gives on each down.
At the Combine, Collier ran a 4.91 40 yard dash, 7,71 three cone, and jumped 118 inches in the broad jump. None of these numbers jump off the page, and certainly don’t point towards Collier being all-that-productive a pass rusher in the league.
AT TCU, LJ Collier functioned well as a defensive end, coming away with 6 sacks last season and 14.5 throughout his collegiate career. Without explosive traits or bend, however, it’s tough to see him winning on the edge often in the NFL. Collier will have to accumulate effort sacks, which are much tougher to come by in the league.
Though he lacks an array of pass rush moves, LJ Collier could make a living as a nickel-package rusher on the interior. If drafted by the Cowboys I could see them moving Collier down to 3-technique on obvious passing downs, allowing him to hone his skills as a rusher at a position where his lack of explosion won’t be as big an issue.
Against the run Collier is solid overall, but doesn’t really jump off the screen in any one area. He does well enough when asked to shoot gaps or is in a one-on-one situation, but when he faces a double he typically gets washed. I would not advise moving him inside, either, as he is at his best setting the edge against the run.
While Collier doesn’t have an attractive athletic profile, there’s no denying the guys production in college. 11.5 tackles for loss and 6 sacks his senior season is nothing to scoff at, and considering he did it all while not being an every-down player is even more impressive.
I could see Rod Marinelli falling in love with LJ Collier’s effort and toughness, ignoring what he may lack athletically to draft him on day two and put him right into his defensive line rotation. Collier has upside as a speciality pass rusher and rotational run defender in the league, but it will take him time to come into his own in the NFL.