Dallas Cowboys All-Pro offensive guard Zack Martin believes this young defender, that he faces daily in practice, is set to have a big year in Big “D”.
One of the biggest concerns coming into the offseason for the Dallas Cowboys was the play of their defense, particularly along their defensive line. Where will the pass rush will come from has been a lingering question out of Dallas for years now.
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And the exodus of defensive tackle Terrell McClain via free agency this offseason to the Cowboys divisional foes, the Washington Redskins, didn’t help matters. Many considered McClain to be one of the team’s best interior lineman last season.
But according to All-Pro offensive guard Zack Martin, the Cowboys already have one of the soon-to-be best defensive tackles in the NFL on their roster. Particularly at the ever important three technique position. And that’s second-year defender Maliek Collins.
"“[Collin’s] got that combination of leverage and strength and speed and quickness,” Martin told the Dallas Morning News. “He’s great to work against because I truly believe he’s going to be one of the top three-techs in the NFL…He’s got that power and obviously all the quicks, so it’s great for us to go against each other as much as possible. He’s going to have a big year.”"
And Martin should know a good player when he sees one. The 26-year old is arguable the best offensive guard in the NFL, having been named to the Pro Bowl every single season he’s been a professional since. Martin was selected by Dallas in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. And by playing against the best in the league, Collins has quickly sharpened his skills as a defender.
The Cowboys selected Collins in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Nebraska. Despite missing a majority of training camp last season due to a broken foot, the now 22-year old proved to be quite the disruptive force for Dallas last season.
During his rookie campaign, Collins recorded 23 total tackles, 5.0 sacks and a forced fumble while starting in 14 of his first 16 games in Big “D”. Maliek posted the second most sacks on the team last season.
According to NFL.com’s Next Gen Stats, the young defender led the league in fastest average time to sack among rookie interior defensive linemen with 4.28 seconds. Collins was also 5th among all of the NFL’s interior pass rushers in that same category last season.
The bottom line is if the man nicknamed “The President” (thank you Nate Newton), Zack Martin, believes second-year defensive tackle Maliek Collins is going to have a big year, it’s best to believe him. If anyone knows about excelling at your craft, it’s Martin. And he’s had a front row seat to Collin’s development.