2016 NFL Draft: Foster Farms Bowl

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Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska

#7 DT Maliek Collins (6’2 | 300 | 5.06)

Similar to the UCLA’s NT Kenny Clark, Collins doesn’t have prototype nose tackle size but he has been one of the best in college football this year. He lacks ideal bulk and power, but has been a dominant force inside for the Huskers this season. Collins has an explosive burst off the ball that reminds me of Aaron Donald and Geno Atkins, but is limited a bit by Nebraska’s philosophy of reading the play before reacting (McClellin should have gone there). Despite the hesitation at the snap, Collins comes off the ball so low and with enough power that he can disrupt plays in the backfield and handle double teams at the college level.

Ideally Collins will end up as a 3-tech in an NFL 4-3 scheme, but has the size and versatility to play the 5-tech in a 3-4 or the 1-tech in a 4-3. Collins is just a play-maker who could make an impact wherever he lines up and with a little technique improvement could be a Pro Bowl caliber player at multiple positions at the next level. He’s the type of versatile player that Chicago Bears DC Vic Fangio loves and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up in Chicago should he slip out of the first round.

Projection: 1st-2nd round

#98 DT JR Vincent Valentine (6’2 | 320 | 5.25)

More of a classic run-stopper than his linemate Collins. Valentine has the bulk and strength to hold up against double teams and clog the middle to stuff the running game. He doesn’t bring much against the pass, but can be a valuable run stuffer as either a 3-4 nose tackle or a 1-tech in a 4-3. Valentine isn’t a stiff athletically and can move laterally to be a solid asset against the run. He should stay another year in college, but if he declares someone will role the dice early on day 3. In a season or two Valentine could develop into a valuable NFL run stopper and a team could end up with a steal if he comes out a year early.

Projection: 5th-6th

#71 OT Alex Lewis (6’6 | 297 | 5.17) 

Has the size, long arms, and light feet to be an NFL left tackle, but it’s not going to happen right away. Lewis has a lean lower body that leaves him susceptible to power rushes at the college level. He does a good job of recovering his anchor after the initial punch, but it won’t be as easy against NFL DEs. Lewis had an off-field incident back in 2013 that set his development back a bit, but the potential is there for him to develop into a useful NFL tackle before the end of his rookie deal. He’s a developmental pick that has enough upside to be well worth a day 3 draft pick.

Projection: 6th-7th round