Maliek Collins, Defensive Tackle
The word “disappeared” may be a little strong here, but one must consider the high expectations placed on defensive tackle Maliek Collins after his rookie year and the massive amount of playing time he’s been given since.
Collins was an absolutely beast his rookie season. While other rookies like Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott garnered all the praise in Dallas, the Cowboys 2016 third round selection out of Nebraska was steadily making highlight reel plays on the interior, and appeared to be one of the NFL’s quickest defenders in the trenches.
The 22-year old was a straight up disruptive force for Dallas last season. Collins ended his rookie year second on the team with 5.0 sacks. Many predicted he’d likely led the team in that category this year.
Instead, Collins has gone missing at times in 2017. And that doesn’t make sense as going into the bye week, the second-year defender had the most snaps of any defensive lineman (242), playing over 70% of the time. That’s even more than DeMarcus Lawrence!
Outside of a two sack performance against the Arizona Cardinals in Week Three, Collins has posted nine total tackles and half a sack in five games so far. And he’s been on the field more than any other defensive lineman.
The fact is Collins is in the midst of a sophomore slump. Despite playing a large number of snaps this season, when was the last time you heard an announcer call his name? And the fact Dallas has struggled against the run is partly his fault as well.
But, in a big picture view, the Dallas Cowboys are only six games into their regular season. And Maliek Collins has plenty of time to live up to his own hype.