The Las Vegas Raiders needed to give their defense a makeover after finishing 24th against points allowed in 2019. They did precisely that this past offseason via the draft and free agency. While linebackers Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski are the team’s main defensive acquisitions, defensive tackle Maliek Collins’ arrival shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Everything starts at the Raiders first line of defense
The Raiders linebacker corps definitely needed an upgrade after being a liability for many years. Thus, it wasn’t surprising to see them invest heavily in the unit. On the other hand, their defensive line wasn’t much better. Although there was a significant improvement from 2018 to last season, the group as a whole required more work. Even though the unit generated all of the Silver and Black’s 32 sacks, plenty of other defensive lines generated more pressure up front.
Pro Football Focus ranked the Raiders defensive line 28th in the NFL. One of the reasons they cited was the lack of pressure at the line of scrimmage in 2019. At the same time, they cited the potential that defensive ends, Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell, both have entering their sophomore campaigns. Moreover, they mentioned the addition of Maliek Collins to the group.
Besides the fact Collins had more pressures than anyone on the Raiders roster last season, the defensive tackle is really good at taking blockers off their teammates. He will command double teams, which will open things up for his teammates. Whether Collins directly makes plays or indirectly helps create them, he will surely give the Raiders defensive line a boost.
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Maliek Collins has the Gruden seal of approval
Raiders’ head coach Jon Gruden sounds happy with the role Collins will play for the team. Via The Athletic, Gruden says that the defensive tackle brings experience to the position.
Collins has experience in our system. He’s been a classic three-technique. He has experience with the position coach that’s coaching him. He’s officially about to enter the prime of his career. So, he’s got a lot of playing experience. He’s got a lot of technical knowledge of what we want done.
Moreover, Gruden expects Collins to be a key cog in the Raiders defense and muses about how good he can be.
He’s the key to our defense. I think he’s got a chance to be one of the better ones.
Collins’ deal with the Raiders runs for just one year, so he has plenty of incentives to perform well. Even though Ferrell and Crosby will improve on their own, Collins’ presence at the line of scrimmage will help the duo and the Raiders defense as a whole.
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