Similar to the majority of his career, defensive tackle Maliek Collins has become a forgotten name in the Cowboys’ 2020 free agency class.
Collins was a part of the Dallas Cowboys star-filled draft class in 2016. The team landed Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott in the first round, Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith in the second, and Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott in the fourth. But their third-rounder showed potential as well.
Collins was drafted 67th overall from the University of Nebraska and posted an impressive five sacks his rookie season – second-most on the team that year.
According to NFL.com’s Next Gen Stats, Collins averaged 4.28 seconds from snap to sack in his first year, a high among first-year interior defensive lineman and fifth-fastest in the entire league.
Collins recorded 5.5 sacks over his next two injury-plagued seasons before tallying four sacks this past season.
According to ESPN’s Pass Rush Win Rate metric, Maliek Collins finished fourth among interior linemen.
— Coach Brandon Jordan (@CoachBTJordan) February 19, 2020
Their Pass Rush Win Rate metric tells us how often a pass-rusher is able to beat his block within 2.5 seconds. ESPN’s model of pass blocking harnesses player tracking data from NFL Next Gen Stats.
The coaching staff that drafted and groomed Collins is gone. And last year, Dallas used their second-round pick on Trysten Hill in a move that felt very much like preparation for Maliek’s departure.
Hill played a woeful 121 snaps for Dallas and was only active for seven games during his rookie campaign.
Collins has started 90 percent of the games he has played for the Cowboys. He leaves a noticeable hole in the interior of their line with only Tyrone Crawford and Hill under contract to fill his void.
With bigger priorities for Dallas to tend to this offseason, it’s unlikely Collins will be back with this team, but four years of productivity as a starter is a nice return for a third-round pick.
His market may be far higher than what the Cowboys are willing to offer. However, looking at a 30-year-old Crawford and an unproven Hill behind him is cause for concern at the moment.
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