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Maliek Collins NFL Draft Profile: Nebraska tackle is a high-motor anchor

The Nebraska defensive tackle is a leader, a scholar and a fighter. Hey may not be polished enough for a first round selection in a deep group of tackles, but he could be a steal on Day 2 of the NFL Draft.

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In an continued effort to find possible defensive line help for the Packers, Maliek Collins is a possible name that could be heard somewhere on Day 2 of the NFL Draft.  This clearly brings the attention to a player who had big time production at a premier college football program.  Admittedly, I have the ulterior motive of wanting to explore a Green Bay-Collins connections because my little brother is a Nebraska graduate.

Collins joined the Huskers in 2013 and played in 12 games as a freshman, with his only start coming in the Gator Bowl.  He then went on to start in every game of both his sophomore and junior seasons before declaring for the NFL Draft.  In his sophomore season he managed 45 tackles (17 solo), 14.0 TFL, 4.5 sacks and 13 quarterback pressures.  Collins led the team in TFL and was second in sacks, and he was named the team's Defensive co-MVP.  On top of that, Collins was named an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention by the Media, Second-Team All-Big Ten by the Coaches and Academic All-Big Ten.  This season also put Collins on the watch lists for the Outland, Nagurski, Bednarik and Lombardi awards for his junior year.

In 2015, Collins was the focus of every blocking scheme he faced all year and had to contend with constant double-teams.  Still, he put up 29 tackles, 7 TFL, 2.5 sacks and six quarterback hurries..  Collins was named to the Coaches' and AP Second-Team All-Big Ten team.  Collins was selected by his teammates as one of the six team captains. It is also worth mentioning that Collins and the Huskers had a rather abrupt coaching change between his sophomore and junior seasons, when Bo Pelini was fired and Mike Riley brought in as head coach.

At the Scouting Combine, Collins did not light up drills, but he did not hurt his prospects.  Collins ran a 5.03 second 40-yard dash, not a bad number for a 6'2", 311 pound defensive tackle.  He put up 225 pounds 25 times in the bench press, and leapt 29.5" in the vertical jump and 9'1" in the broad jump.  He showed good quickness by running a 4.52-second 20-yard shuttle (faster than Sheldon Rankins and just 0.02 seconds behind pass rusher Emmanuel Ogbah) and a 7.53-second three-cone drill (just 0.02 seconds behind DeForest Buckner and 0.09 seconds behind Rankins).  Collins sat content with these numbers as he focused on position drills at his March 4th Pro Day in Lincoln.  At the Pro Day, Collins showed his endurance as coaches ran him through repeated drills and Collins earned rave reviews for staying as intense at the end as in the beginning.

Many point to his stable production on the field and say that Collins might be one of the overlooked gems in this draft.  Gil Brandt said, "He has very good ability to get off blocks and make plays. He has long arms. If you want to get a starting nose tackle in the second round, this is your guy."   Lance Zierlein wrote that Collins has "impressive athleticism and movement skills, but a lack of play strength to hold up at the point of attack."  Collins received a second round grade from the draft advisory board and that seems a fair assessment.  There is some disagreement among pundits, however.  Scouts Inc ranks Collins as the 59th-best overall prospect and CBS has him down at #103.  Both sources believe Collins is the 12th best DT in this deep class.

Collins is a leader who was still a major producer on Nebraska.  The designations as team captain and an Academic All-Big Ten performer shows his intelligence and intangibles.  He was also named as the Brook Berringer and Tom Osborne Citizenship Teams.  Collins has very good agility and good speed.  He could be a force to help collapse the pocket with upfield pressure.  He could use some technique work, and that is why he will be a possible choice for the Packers in the second round.  He provides presence and leadership and is definitely the sort of personality that lends itself to staying high on draft boards.  If the Packers are wiling to wait on positions like tight end and linebacker, Collins could be a name to watch on day 2 as Green Bay reshapes its defensive line.