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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.

maliek collins 2 - Streamable

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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 am currently a college student. Lets get going.

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1 Comment
  • cornstalkwalker

    I would say he had a breakout year in 2016. He took the starting job and was 2nd in sacks. Hopefully, the sky’s the limit and we have the next W Sapp for this defense.

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Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make the Roster?

Sean Martin

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Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make Cowboys Roster? 2
(Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

The Dallas Cowboys aren't short on numbers at wide receiver on their current 90-man roster. Looking to replace Dez Bryant and reshape their offense, the Cowboys will have to find the right group of pass catchers for Dak Prescott at their upcoming training camp.

This group includes Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Lance Lenoir, Deonte Thompson, Cedrick Wilson, Michael Gallup, KD Cannon, Mekale McCay, and Marchie Murdock.

The odd men out from this group will likely be the ones that can't sustain a consistent level of play, doing so across multiple units if needed. All ten receivers will have their flashes, but with only four being true locks to make the team, new Cowboys Wide Receivers Coach Sanjay Lal will be in on some tough decisions right away.

One such decision may be moving on from last year's seventh round pick Noah Brown out of Ohio State. Vouched for by former Buckeyes teammate Ezekiel Elliott thanks to his blocking ability on the outside, it may now be this strength in the run game and deficiency as a pass catcher that spells the end of Brown's run in Dallas.

Normally, a seventh round pick being on the roster bubble wouldn't be this noteworthy, but Brown clearly showed the potential to outplay this draft status as a rookie. Appearing in 13 games, Brown is a true X receiver, although not the dominant one the Cowboys are searching for.

What Happens if WR Allen Hurns Doesn't Pan Out?

Dallas Cowboys WR Deonte Thompson, Cedrick Wilson, Allen Hurns (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Moving away from fielding a true number one receiver, the Cowboys did sign Allen Hurns to play this spot while prepared to spread the ball around to Williams, Beasley, and Gallup after that.

This leaves Thompson, Wilson, Cannon, Lenoir, McCay, Murdock, and Brown to prove their worth in other ways to make the roster. I've written plenty about the potential rookie Cedrick Wilson has, so I'll be expecting a strong showing from him to earn a role in the Cowboys offense.

Wilson's skill set could push a depth signing like Deonte Thompson off the team, although his ability to back up Cole Beasley/Tavon Austin on special teams is important. The same can be said about Lance Lenoir, who like Brown has the advantage over first year players given his trials through training camp and the preseason a year ago.

Long shots to make the team, Cannon, McCay, and Murdock fall just below this group -- and somewhere in the middle is Noah Brown.

Increasing his role on special teams as the season went on last year, Brown had fans throughout a coaching staff that is now drastically changed for 2018. From their shift to more speed on offense, to drafting of both Gallup and Wilson, calling Brown a fringe player on the Cowboys roster really sets up the fiery competition to come at wide receiver.

Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make Cowboys Roster?

Dallas Cowboys WR Noah Brown (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

Should the Cowboys find a spot for Brown, one can only hope it means this new coaching staff has a clear plan for him to contribute on both offense and special teams outside of being a run blocker. A potential niche for Brown is his red zone ability, not afraid to put his body on the line for jump balls and fight through contact in his routes.

It won't be long until we sort out if this is enough to make the Cowboys as a wide receiver ahead of Quarterback Dak Prescott's third season.

Tell us what you think about "Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make the Roster?" 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 CB Marquez White Facing Assault Charges

Jess Haynie

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Marquez White

Player news this time of year is often not the good kind, and such is true of a new development with Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Marquez White. The second-year CB is facing aggravated assault charges for an incident last October.

According to the report, White displayed a legally owned firearm during a "road rage" incident.

Marquez,  a sixth-round pick of the Cowboys last season, has made his side of the story public. The following account was released by White to The Dothan Eagle, his hometown newspaper:

Cowboys CB Marquez White Facing Assault Charges

Cowboys CB Marquez White Facing Assault Charges 1

Naturally, we're in a wait-and-see situation as to how this case unfolds and impacts White's availability to the Cowboys in 2018. He is one of several players hoping to catch on at the bottom of the CB depth chart, having spent his rookie season on the practice squad.

This latest legal issue is especially unwelcome news after other Cowboys' recent problems. The team has seen David Irving get suspended four games for illegal substances and Terrance Williams' get arrested for public intoxication in the last two months.

Last year, Linebacker Damien Wilson was charged for aggravated assault in a somewhat similar situation to that of Marquez White. Those charges were eventually dropped.

What happens in White's case remains to be seen.



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Deadline for DeMarcus Lawrence Contract Extension Nearing

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Blog - Cowboys Crossroads: Is This a Short-Term or Long-Term Team? 2

NFL teams have until July 16 to work out a long-term extension with any players currently under the franchise tag, which means the Dallas Cowboys have about a week to work something out with Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence. If deals are not signed and approved by the league by 4 P.M. ET July 16, the sides cannot agree to new contracts until after the 2018 season ends.

Along with the Lawrence, Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell, Detroit Lions DE Ziggy Ansah, and Los Angeles Rams S Lamarcus Joyner have franchise tags slapped on them. All of them would love the long-term security a contract extension would provide, but they are all going to have to wait and see what the upcoming week has in store for them.

So, what will the Dallas Cowboys decide to do with DeMarcus Lawrence? Can they come to terms on a long-term contract extension before the deadline on July 16?

Luckily for Lawrence, the Dallas Cowboys seem open about hearing what he believes his market value is. That doesn't mean he will get his asking price, but the talks have to begin somewhere.

DeMarcus Lawrence

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence

Rumors are already circulating that Lawrence is seeking a five-year extension and wants to make more money than Danielle Hunter, who the Vikings just signed to a five-year $72 million contract. That's probably more money than the Cowboys have in mind at this time. They may prefer to wait and see if he can replicate what he accomplished in 2017.

Last season DeMarcus Lawrence turned into the "War Daddy" Owner Jerry Jones has been seeking for the defense. He accumulated a career-high 14.5 quarterback sacks and finally played an entire 16 game season. But, even that may not be worth the money he is rumored to be seeking right now.

Hunter's five-your $72 million contract extension is the going price right now for someone of Lawrence's caliber, but there are other players in line for a big payday as well. Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack, and Jadeveon Clowney are all in the same boat as Lawrence. What kind of extensions they receive could change the going rate, which could cause some hesitance on the Cowboys part.

Fortunately, I kind of doubt DeMarcus Lawrence is going to complain much if he has to play the 2018 season under the franchise tag. He will make a little over $17 million for one year and has a chance to cash in big time if he can replicate what he did a season ago.

Would you sign DeMarcus Lawrence to an extension before the July 16 deadline?



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