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Why DT Maliek Collins Will Have A Breakout Season In 2017

Kevin Brady

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Maliek Collins

All of Cowboys Nation has entered the 2017 offseason with one goal on their mind: find a pass rusher.

The Dallas Cowboys, who's only true edge rusher in Randy Gregory will be suspended for all of next season, are expected to draft at least one defensive end this April. Already having one of the league's top offenses, everybody understands where the Cowboys' holes are and what must be done to fill them.

With that being said, the Cowboys defensive line is far from a complete lost-cause. In 2016, multiple young rushmen emerged and showed that they could sustain a high level of play throughout the entire season.

At the top of that list is former Nebraska defensive tackle Maliek Collins.

Collins was forced to miss just about every offseason activity the Cowboys had due to a foot injury. But when he was finally healthy and ready to go, Collins showed flashes of his top-tier tackle potential.

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When the Cowboys first drafted Maliek Collins in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, I reviewed his college film and concluded that he could be an impactful 3-technique for Rod Marinelli.

Now, almost a full year later and a full season into Collins' career, my stance on Collins has only been strengthened by his play.

A relentless pass rusher who plays with an incredibly high motor, Collins finished his rookie season with 5 sacks and a forced fumble. For a defensive tackle, 5 sacks is a superb season, and one that could have warranted Collins Defensive Rookie of the Year recognition if he was apart of a better unit.

The above play illustrates my favorite two qualities of Collins' game, his get-off and his hands. Collins possesses a vicious rip move as well as quick swim which help him win against interior offensive linemen. He also does a nice job head faking, and forcing offensive linemen to commit their hands too early. When he sees hands, he is able to swat them away, flip his hips, and get after the quarterback.

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Even on plays where Collins may have "lost" initially, his motor and effort get him through. For a defensive tackle, Collins effort is off the charts. He refuses to give up on plays and keeps both his hands and feet active all the way through the whistle.

He is also an extremely athletic player, something that coach Marinelli certainly loves about him. Many times this season Collins chased down run plays and screen passes from behind to make tackles. Moving laterally with quickness and fluidity, Collins looks more like an end than a tackle in open space.

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Against the run, Collins combines his athleticism with power to win at the line of scrimmage. Back in week 8 against the Eagles, we see Collins beat the tackle across his face right off the ball with a quick first step and powerful rip. Able to maintain leverage while moving down the line, Collins meets Darren Sproles a yard down field to make the stop short of a first down.

Of course, all of these highlight plays are in the past now, lost in season which ended in disappointment. Still, I believe that Maliek Collins, as well as others such as David Irving, are not getting the credit they deserve by the fans.

The Cowboys do need to vastly improve on certain elements of their defense, defensive end being at the top of that list. If they can add a rusher like Carl Lawson or Takkarist McKinley to the edge with Maliek Collins on the inside pushing the pocket, this defensive line will become one of the youngest and most explosive in the entire league.

Maliek Collins had a fantastic rookie season, one that would be talked about more if it weren't for the Cowboys first and fourth round picks of the same draft. But he is only going to get better, and barring any major injuries, is set to have a breakout season in 2017.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

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BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Sign Free Agent Safety George Iloka

Jess Haynie

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George Iloka

The Dallas Cowboys have reached a one-year agreement with Safety George Iloka, according to ESPN's Todd Archer. Iloka spent 2018 with the Vikings after six years with the Bengals.

He's started 79 of his 99 career games since being a fifth-round pick by Cincinnati in 2012. Iloka turns 29 years old next week.

Todd Archer on Twitter

The Cowboys have agreed to a one-year deal with safety George Iloka, according to a source. Iloka met with the Cowboys on Friday and was the third safety to meet with the club during the week along with Clayton Geathers and Eric Berry. The Cowboys have... https://t.co/JB5nJLWepc

This isn't the safety that most Cowboys fans wanted. After over a year of pining for Earl Thomas, sights turned to Eric Berry after his free agent visit in Dallas last week.

However, it makes sense that Iloka would be attractive to the Cowboys. At 6'4" and 225 lbs, he fits the physical mold of what Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard likes in his players. He also is younger than Berry and Thomas without the same recent injury issues.

Iloka becomes one of many Boise St. products on Dallas' roster, joining Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence, Leighton Vander Esch, and others. He entered the league with college teammates Crawford and Kellen Moore, the Cowboys' new offensive coordinator, in 2012.

We'll have to wait and see how George Iloka fits into the current mix at safety with Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods. He spent most of 2018 as a backup with Minnesota, but Dallas will likely give him a chance to start.



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BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb

Brian Martin

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BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb

According to multiple sources, the Dallas Cowboys have signed former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb to a one-year deal to help bolster their depth at the WR position and potentially become Cole Beasley's replacement.

Adam Schefter on Twitter

Cowboys are giving former Packers' WR Randall Cobb a one-year, $5 million deal, per source. https://t.co/8KWFPjSP8T

The Dallas Cowboys met with Randall Cobb earlier this week, but he eventually left Dallas without a contract. He must've had a change of heart or just needed time to ponder the Cowboys offer, but regardless of what transpired in that short time he is now part of America's Team.

During his time with the Packers, Cobb accumulated 470 receptions for 5,524 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns. The eight-year veteran will now be expected to replace some of Cole Beasley's production out of the slot for the Dallas Cowboys.

After years of watching Beasley as the Cowboys slot WR, it will be really interesting to see Randall Cobb in that role. He's not as quick twitched as No. 11, but can be just as dangerous due to his ability to be more of a down the field receiver. He also brings added value in the return game and could compete with Tavon Austin to become the return specialist.

This could mean the Cowboys forgo drafting a wide receiver early in the 2019 NFL Draft, but I wouldn't put it past them. Regardless of what happens, this is an excellent addition.

Welcome to Cowboys Nation Randall Cobb!



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REPORT: Dallas Cowboys Re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur

Jess Haynie

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L.P. Ladouceur

L.P. Ladouceur is returning for his 15th season as the Cowboys' long snapper. The veteran free agent was re-signed by Dalals today to a one-year deal.

Thanks to Jason Witten's one-year sabbatical with Monday Night Football, Ladouceur has now been with the Cowboys for more consecutive seasons than any current player. He just turned 38 last week, but Louis-Philippe remains one of the top long snappers in football.

Todd Archer on Twitter

The Cowboys have signed long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur to a one-year deal worth $1.03 million and $90,000 in bonus money, but he will count $735,000 against the cap. This will be Ladouceur's 15th season with the Cowboys, tying Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Mark... https://t.co/2iDsi6RX7e

Retaining Ladouceur is an underrated move for the Cowboys given their situation at kicker.

Brett Maher was only 80% accurate overall on field goals last year. The team could be considering an upgrade in free agency.

Whether they bring Maher back or try someone new, having a long snapper with Ladouceur's performance perfection will make things much easier for them.



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