Raiders Stiffening At The Defensive Point Of Attack

A strong physical presence up the middle of the defense in the passing game is what the Las Vegas Raiders have lacked for years.

Johnathan Hankins has been solid in the running game. Also, Maurice Hurst Jr. improved considerably in his second season. However, the Raiders still needed to get even stouter up the middle. Arguably, the Raiders most underrated free-agent acquisition of the 2020 season could be Maliek Collins.

The new dog in the yard

Collins signed a one-year deal for $6 million, the defensive tackle will be motivated to dominate. Double-teamed on 64% of his snaps, Collins won early at the line of scrimmage. His hand usage is sharp, abrupt, violent, and disrespectful, to whoever has the unenviable task of blocking him. Physically, he is a 310-pound marvel. Collins is an active big man and singling him up is like sacrificing the quarterback. More agile than a dancing circus bear, and equally unstoppable juggernaut, he’s a true problem for opposing offensive lines.

The knock on Collins is his prowess at stopping the run. Interestingly enough, his existing skillset fully compliments the Raiders defensive line. While the Raiders had a tremendous jump in sack production going from 13 in 2018 to 32 in 2019, opposing offenses still had enough time to pick the secondary apart.

The addition of Collins will be huge for the seasoning of “Salt and Peppa” Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell. Both young edges displayed potential for the Raiders defense. However, they needed a little bit more help. Collins collapsing the pocket is only going to benefit these young men. Flushing quarterbacks right to them. The former Cowboys defensive lineman spent the last three years in Dallas under defensive line coach Rod Marinelli. Furthermore, he can help his teammates learn his former coach’s system.

Related: DE Clelin Ferrell Making the Most Out of the Offseason

Stocked up

Collins signing is great for the rotation and puts former second-round pick P.J. Hall on notice. The physical presence at the line of scrimmage was one of a few missing pieces to Paul Guenther’s defense. The Raiders have finally chosen to invest in the linebacking corps, signing Nick Kwiatkoski and Cory Littleton. They have added veterans like Prince Amukamara, Jeff Heath, and Damarious Randall in the secondary. Likewise, the Raiders added even more players in last month’s draft.

The Raiders defense is young, brash, hungry, and full of confidence. There are veterans in every depth chart, modern NFL linebackers, and a bigger meaner line. Collins, has an opportunity to put it all together with the Raiders. Like his situation in Dallas, the defense is filled with young talent and a great rotation. The Raiders need Collins to ascend to stardom and Collins needs the Raiders so he can be spotlighted and earn his next big paycheck.

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Top Photo: Roger Steinman/Associated Press

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