The Dallas Cowboys' philosophy the last few years has been to attack the defensive line with quantity if not top-end quality. With their third-round pick, the Cowboys appear to have found more interior line depth in Nebraska’s Maliek Collins.
My take: The Cowboys will be without Randy Gregory for the first four games and are expecting to be without DeMarcus Lawrence for the first four as well, so it would have made more sense to go after a defensive end.
The Cowboys value position flexibility and could look to play Tyrone Crawford, their starter at under tackle the last two years, at defensive end more in the first month of the season. Free-agent signing Cedric Thornton could also play end more than expected when he joined the Cowboys.
Collins had eight sacks in 38 games to go along with 23 tackles for loss. He had his best year as a sophomore when he played with Gregory.
Unlike second-round pick Jaylon Smith, at least Collins will be able to get on the field this year to help the defense.
No quarterback call: The Cowboys nearly traded into the first round Thursday for quarterback Paxton Lynch but were not ready to pull the trigger on any of the quarterbacks they had in for visits to Valley Ranch with the 67th pick. Connor Cook, Jacoby Brissett and Dak Prescott were on the board when the Cowboys selected Collins. They could be in luck and find any of these signal callers available, plus Arkansas’ Brandon Allen, when they pick in the fourth round Saturday. The last time the Cowboys drafted a quarterback was Stephen McGee in the fourth round of the 2009 draft.
Fourth time a charm: The last time the Cowboys selected a defensive lineman in the third round it was 2012 when they took Crawford. He performed well as a rookie but did not have a sack. In fact, the last three defensive lineman the Cowboys drafted in the top three rounds have not recorded sacks as rookies. Lawrence did not do it in 2014 and Gregory did not do it last year. But the Cowboys hope Collins can do what the others didn’t but they have shown patience in the past. Crawford missed his second season with a torn Achilles but became an every-down player in 2014. Lawrence had a team-high eight sacks in 2015.
What’s next: The Cowboys enter the final day of the draft with six draft picks: two in the fourth round and four in the sixth. They still have defensive needs along the line and in the secondary but offensive possibilities include wide receiver in addition to quarterback.