A few weeks ago, I explored how the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive line could still create pressure and wreak havoc even without the presence of a big time pass-rushing end.
My plan focused on the interior of the defensive line shrinking the pocket and getting into the face of the quarterback. This would eliminate any chance of stepping up in the pocket, and would force either a quick throw or a failed escape attempt.
Maliek Collins, Cedric Thornton, Tyrone Crawford, and Terrell McClain would be featured in a fearsome interior rotation that would bring hope to an otherwise questionable defensive line.
It all seemed so perfect.
Of course, things don’t always work out how you planned.
While I, as well as all of Cowboys Nation, feels terribly for Collins, the show must go on until he can return.
Not that any time for an injury is a “good” time, but if Collins’ foot break would’ve occurred any further along the offseason process, it would have had a much bigger impact on both Collins and the Cowboys.
With still just under 100 days to go until the season opener against the New York Giants, there is little doubt that Maliek Collins’ foot will be healed in time for the regular season.
The real questions which must be asked are about where his conditioning and “professional-readiness” will be after being sidelined for such a long period of time.
It is no easy task for a rookie, especially a third round defensive lineman, to be physically and mentally ready for the season opener with a full offseason and training camp to work with. So, imagine how difficult it will be without that offseason?
If Collins was to miss most of or all of training camp and/or some preseason games, he may not be ready to make an impact come week 1 like we thought he would be able to prior to the injury.
A sort of secondary impact Collins’ injury will make comes with how we view the 2016 draft class as a whole.
Going into the draft, just about everyone thought that Dallas would focus their draft on defensive help, with the exception of taking a quarterback or a running back at some point. While they did add three straight defensive players from rounds 2-4, and then two more defensive backs in the 6th, there is a strong possibility only two or three of those players will be on the roster and ready to play come week 1 of this season.
After all the speculation about adding a potential defensive stud like Jalen Ramsey, Dallas may be left with a 4th rounder and 2 6th rounders as their only healthy rookies defensively.
Down the line, Maliek Collins will certainly be fine and Jaylon Smith may be as well, but if you’re looking for immediately impactful defensive rookies, you might have come to the wrong place.
I am not suggesting the Cowboys drafted, or should have drafted, with only 2016 in mind. The draft is a tricky business where you try to add players who will produce as soon as possible, while also “building for the future.” But I definitely don’t believe that, as fans, we expected only three late round defensive picks to be healthy contributors week 1 of this season.
With all of that being said, let’s not overreact too much here.
We all thought Collins would be a player for the Cowboys, and he still will be. A broken foot during the early days of June is not going to change that.
It is a minor setback for Collins, but once he is healthy and comfortable in the system, he will be absolutely fine.