Raiders 2020 Rewind: Maliek Collins Didn’t Become ‘Key To The Defense’

Maliek Collins was one of, if not the most disappointing free-agent the Las Vegas Raiders signed in 2020. The defensive tackle was expected to come in and bolster a defensive line that desperately needed help. Coming off of a season with 21 pressures, six tackles for loss, and four sacks in 2019, that is what the Silver and Black figured they got. However, $6 million and eight solo tackles later, the defensive front still deals with the same issues.

The Key to the Defense

Before the start of the 2020 season, head coach Jon Gruden called Collins ‘the key to the defense‘. Unfortunately, Maliek’s play is almost reflective of the defensive play this season; underwhelming, disappointing, and unhealthy. At 25, Collins is just entering, what should be, the prime of his career. With productive seasons already under his belt in Dallas, expectations were high for Collins.

Collins’ familiarity with defensive line coach, Rod Marinelli, was supposed to slingshot him to the height of his capabilities. And while the entire defensive line was a disappointment during the 2020 season, Collins was also on a one-year prove-it deal with the Raiders. It looked like he was ready to play at the highest level. However, this did not end up being the case.

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Maliek Collins didn’t meet expectations

Collins went from six tackles for a loss and four sacks in 2019 to zero this past season. After missing Weeks 12 through 16 due to injury, as well as coming out of multiple other games, his 2020 season will be one to forget. As production and playing time dropped throughout the season, it was clearly seen that ’97’ was not a strong presence in the middle of the defensive line.

The front four’s production, or lack thereof, did not change whether Collins was in or not. The need for interior pressure is one that has plagued the defensive line for years, and Collins was supposed to help that. But it looks like the 2021 offseason will be another year of looking for interior talent.

What is Next for Collins and the Raiders?

Talent for Gus Bradley’s new-look defense for the Raiders is going to be pivotal. The Raiders have a few cornerstone pieces such as Maxx Crosby, Clelin Ferrell, Jonathan Abram, and others. There is talent there, but the push in the middle will be vital. Collins showed in 2020 he was not the answer for the middle of the defensive line.

The draft or another shot in free agency will be the most likely answer for Bradley’s defense. Maliek Collins will more than likely end up a free agent again, and hopefully, he finds success elsewhere. However, Collins and Las Vegas aren’t good for each other.

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Top Photo: John Locher/Associated Press

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