The Nebraska Cornhuskers were not shocked that Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins decided to announce his foray into the 2016 NFL Draft. The Junior Defensive Tackle made it official after the victory vs. UCLA in the Foster Farms Bowl on December 26th.
Collins originally came to Nebraska from Kansas City's Center Senior HS, where he was the 8th best player in the state of Missouri and the 37th best player in the 2013 recruiting cycle. He picked Nebraska and was offered by Missouri, Kansas, Iowa State, Iowa, and Arkansas among others. His main recruiters were John Garrison and Rich Kaczenski, which would influence his jump into the NFL later on.
Collins played meaningful time in his three years in Lincoln, seeing time from the moment he was on campus with no redshirt year. He played in 38 games at Nebraska, making 25 of his 26 starts his Sophomore and Junior years. His most prolific year was his Sophomore year, the final season he was with Rich Kaczenski in Lincoln. That year, he had 45 total tackles, with 14 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks on the season.
In his Junior season, he seemed to come down with the new hires of Defensive Coordinator Mark Banker and Defensive Line coach Hank Hughes. His numbers showed in this, as he only registered 29 total tackles and 2.5 sacks. At times, it seemed like he clashed with Hughes, especially after a late game personal foul penalty vs. Northwestern.
Collins seemed to not get along with Hughes, as some other players didn't given the fact that both Hughes and several other DL men are not in the program anymore. Collins, however, doesn't leave Lincoln without some fair honors:
" Nebraska Team Captain (2015)
" Second-Team All-Big Ten (Coaches, AP, 2015)
" Third-Team All-Big Ten (Media, Phil Steele, 2015)
" Lombardi, Outland, Nagurski, Bednarik Watch List (2015)
" Second-Team All-Big Ten (Coaches, 2014)
" Honorable-Mention All-Big Ten (Media, 2014)
" Academic All-Big Ten (2014, 2015)
" Nebraska Defensive co-MVP (2014)
" Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll (Spring, 2015)
" Brook Berringer Citizenship Team (2015)
" Tom Osborne Citizenship Team (2015)
As he forays into the Draft, Collins put up some fair numbers in front of folks at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Test results at NFL Combine:
40 Yard Dash: 5.03 seconds
Bench Press: 25 reps
Vertical Jump: 29.5 inches
Broad Jump: 109 inches
3 Cone Drill: 7.53 seconds
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.52 seconds
STRENGTHS Explosive get-off with good pad level. Has exceptional lateral movement and overall athleticism for the position. Moved around defensive line as rusher and allowed to stand to maximize athleticism as twister. Good coordination between hands and feet. Strong jump step and club move inside is his go-to rush. Flashes an impressive ceiling when it's clicking for him. Initial quickness opens door for disruption. Plus motor with active hands.
WEAKNESSES Has very little scheme or position flexibility. Ends up on the ground all the time. Impact production doesn't match the athletic ability and talent. Square rusher missing hip swivel and upper body turn to improve penetration. Comes flying in as pass rusher on twists, but doesn't have workable counterattack ready. Unable to stack and anchor against double teams. Doesnt have play strength to fight back against redirect blocks.
DRAFT PROJECTION Rounds 2 or 3
NFL COMPARISON Henry Melton
BOTTOM LINE Three-technique with impressive athleticism and movement skills, but a lack of play strength to hold up at the point of attack. Collins needs to play for a defense that allows him to play up the field and should benefit from pass rush work with NFL coaching and teammates. Collins should test well which could push him way up the draft board, but his floor is lower than many of the defensive tackles in this draft.