What will the Las Vegas Raiders’ interior defensive line look like with NFL Training Camp approaching?
Much of the media’s attention goes to the Raiders defensive ends, and rightfully so. They’re loaded with young talent that figures to be foundational for the Silver and Black. Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell, along with Carl Nassib and Arden Key, figure to get after opposing quarterbacks. The interior of the defensive line, however, is a different story. General manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden decided that an improvement was needed in 2020.
Collins Will Be A Much-Needed Upgrade
That improvement was former Dallas Cowboy, Maliek Collins, who will instantly be one of the starters at defensive tackle. Coming off a monster 2019 season where Collins totaled four sacks and with a career total of 40 hits, he will be a much-needed upgrade. Clearly, Collins’ strength is in the pass-rushing department, though his run defense is suspect at best as Josh Schrock of NBC Sports recently pointed out. Johnathan Hankins figures to be the other starter, but Schrock reminds us that Maurice Hurst Jr. should be not overlooked by any stretch.
“The Michigan product had a solid 2019 season that didn’t get a lot of attention because he didn’t have any help next to him. For all the hype about Collins, Hurst had a better pass-rush grade than Collins, per Pro Football Focus. Hurst was the 29th ranked interior defensive lineman in the NFL last season. Collins clocked in at 68 and Hankins at 75.”
New Raiders defensive line coach Rod Marinelli will no doubt maximize all of this talent, his track record indicates so. It’s entirely possible that in-game situations will dictate who gets most of the snaps. Regardless, all positive signs point to the defensive tackle position being a strength for the Raiders in 2020.
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*Top Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Image