Will the Dallas Cowboys draft this Maliek Collins clone?

The Dallas Cowboys are hunting for defensive tackle talent in the upcoming draft. And they may have their eye on a native Texan out of Kansas.

The 2016 NFL Draft class is a quickly becoming a legendary one for the Dallas Cowboys. That’s the year the Cowboys landed today’s superstars like running back Ezekiel Elliott, quarterback Dak Prescott, and linebacker Jaylon Smith.

But the unheralded steal out of that class after the first season was Nebraska defensive tackle Maliek Collins. The year prior the Cowboys drafted troubled defensive end Randy Gregory in the second round of the 2015 draft. Scouts clearly noticed Collins as well, his Cornhusker teammate.

In his first season in Dallas, Collins racked up 23 tackles, 5.0 sacks, and a forced fumble. He posted the second highest sack total on the team that year and appeared to have a very bright future ahead of him. That’s despite missing training camp and most of the preseason with a broken foot.

Collins’ production dropped in his second season and then he broke his foot again just last year. In 2018, he started nine of 13 games recording 19 combined tackles and 3.0 sacks. Collins also suffered a knee injury.

The 24-year old is entering the final year of his rookie contract. It’s is unclear if the Cowboys will re-sign the talented, young defensive tackle as his production continues to shrink.

That’s one of the reasons the Cowboys are rumored to be hunting three-technique defensive tackles in the upcoming draft, a role Collins currently fills. And it appears Dallas could have their eye on a very similar player in Kansas defensive tackle Daniel Wise.

There is a rumor that the Cowboys held a private visit with Wise, who is a native Texan that was born in Lewisville and went to high school in Carrollton. He is the brother of New England Patriots’ defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr., who just won a Super Bowl ring after being a fourth-round selection out of Arkansas in 2017. And his father, Deatrich Wise Sr., was a former ninth-round pick by the Seattle Seahawks in the 1988 draft.

In 2017, Wise posted an impressive 53 total tackles, 16.0 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks and forced two fumbles playing beside current Cowboys’ defensive end Dorance Armstrong, who was the team’s fourth-round selection last year. Like Collins and Gregory before them, no doubt the Dallas scouts’ recognized the impressive 6-foot-3, 290-pound defensive tackle who played so well alongside Armstrong two years ago.

That production dropped slightly in 2018, as Wise recorded 34 combined tackles, 12.0 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks without Armstrong beside him. He was still named First Team All-Big 12 for the second season in a row. And that was better production than what Collins posted in his final season at Nebraska with a line of 29 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.

With a similar body shape (6-2, 300) and play-style to Collins, Wise also possesses a quick first step that makes him effective as an interior defender. His technique needs some work and there are some base and balance issues to address.

Believed to initially be a possible late Day Three selection, Wise started to rise up draft boards after a solid showing at the Senior Bowl. He could actually creep into the third round if a team is really high on him.

Next: The all-time best defenders to wear the Star

The Dallas Cowboys had similar feelings for Dorance Armstrong last year and were considering trading back up into the third round to draft him. Instead, they stood pat due in part to some sage advice from Texas Governor Greg Abbott and got Armstrong in the fourth. A similar scenario could occur with Daniel Wise later this month.