After declaring early for the 2016 NFL Draft, Nebraska junior defensive tackle Maliek Collins was selected by the Dallas Cowboys on Friday night. Collins was the 67th overall pick, taken early in the third round. The defensive tackle will reunite with former Husker defensive end Randy Gregory in Big D.
"It's always been a dream of mine," said Collins when he declared for the draft. "I talked it over with my teammates, with Coach (Mike) Riley, and it seems like the best decision for me."
Collins finished the 2015 season with 29 tackles and 2.5 sacks for lost, constantly drawing double-teams all season his defensive tackle spot. The Kansas City product was a two-time second-team All-Big Ten selection in three seasons at Nebraska.
"My basic response is, 'I will give you advice if you want it,'" said Riley. "This was a wise move based on what he knows. I really would like to coach him for another year, but we will have fun watching him play."
Collins started 37 times during his carer and finishes with eight total sacks.
During his junior season, Collins’ play helped Nebraska rank ninth nationally in rushing defense, allowing less than 110 yards per game. Collins was well respected by his teammates as evidenced by his election as one of six captains for the 2015 season.
Harvey's Thoughts: Nebraska’s Maliek Collins will be one of the more athletic defensive tackles in the 2016 NFL draft. The underclassman has an explosive first step, yet the size to be considered a true DT at the next level. While he excels on passing downs, Collins will need work when it comes to run defense. During his junior year Nebraska, the former four-star product drew constant double-teams. Collins’ numbers might have dipped, but his impact was felt beyond the box score.
Expert Breakdown: Collins is a considerably better pass rusher than run defender, and if he plans on playing on all three downs in the NFL, he better improve defending the run. Considering how good Collins is at coming off the ball and getting into the backfield, he should be able to learn how to slow down so he can locate the ball carrier. It's great to be able to get upfield as a defensive lineman, but if you go too far you'll run yourself right out of the play. Collins is 6'2, 311, which is decent size, but he hasn't figured out how to play against double teams, another teachable skill, but I'm sure he's had coaches work with him on the technique in the past and he still hasn't improved. He also allows himself to be moved on redirection blocks, a problem that must be fixed for him to avoid just being a situational pass rusher. -- CHRIS SIMONEAU, Pats Insider