With free agency looming in March, roster turnover isn't far away. However, the majority of the 2019 roster is already in place. In the coming weeks, DallasCowboys.com will feature players who are currently under contract for next season, analyzing their past season and their future prospects.
Today, we continue the series with defensive tackle Maliek Collins.
What's Been Good: For the third straight season, Collins was a primary starter in the defensive tackle rotation. He started nine of 13 games and played just under half of the defense's total season snaps. Working primarily alongside nose tackle Antwaun Woods, Collins ranked fourth on defense in pressures (20) and fifth in sacks (3). Overall the Cowboys fielded one of the league's best run defenses and tied for the fourth-lowest yards allowed per carry (3.8).
What's Been Bad: Collins has shown toughness dealing with injuries since Dallas drafted him in the third round back in 2016. For the second time in three years, he missed part of training camp following foot surgery. Then he missed three games in late September/early October with a sprained knee and popped up on the injury report at points throughout the season.
2018 Highlight: In Week 6, his first game back from the knee sprain, Collins showed incredible agility against the Jaguars when he lined up wide – nearly to the edge – and used the extra space to spin inside and beat guard Andrew Norwell for a sack on quarterback Blake Bortles. The eight-yard loss forced Jacksonville to punt, part of a scoreless first half. Not bad for a 308-pound tackle working against a 2017 All-Pro guard.
What's Next: Collins is entering the final year of his rookie contract, but once again he'll be an important part of what Dallas does up front on defense. The 23-year-old is an impact player when healthy, and the club could look to add more tackle depth to reduce wear and tear on him, Woods and captain Tyrone Crawford.
Injuries have challenged Maliek Collins at times, but the 23-year-old tackle is among the most dependable players on a promising Dallas defense.
Bryan Broaddus' Bottom Line: Maliek Collins is one of my favorite players to watch when he's on. I'd love to see a season where he is completely healthy and practicing full each week. To his credit he has battled through issues and lined up to play when they've needed him. He was paired nicely with Antwaun Woods this season and was a solid combination inside, especially when it came to defending the run. Appreciated his ability to not only play with that first-step quickness but the power he displays when taking on blockers. Collins is a solid, dependable starter that needs just a little bit more luck on the health side.