Raiders: Maliek Collins is the team’s most underrated signing so far

Raiders, Maliek Collins (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Raiders, Maliek Collins (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

The Las Vegas Raiders made a number of signings over the past few days, but perhaps none are more underrated than defensive tackle Maliek Collins.

The Las Vegas Raiders have made quite a few signings this offseason remaining one of the most active teams in free agency. But among those signings, their most underrated one was definitely that of Maliek Collins.

Collins wasn’t as notable of a signing as Cory Littleton. His acquisition didn’t make headlines like Marcus Mariota. But when all is set and done, Collins could be their best move of the entire offseason.

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Originally drafted in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys, Maliek Collins wasted no time getting acquainted with the NFL level starting 14 games and posting five sacks in his rookie season.

Collins would go on to remain a key fixture of the Cowboys’ defensive line rotation starting all 16 games in his second season before starting nine in 2018. He returned back to a full-time starter role in 2019 tallying four sacks and some impressive pass-rush numbers to boot.

The Nebraska product finished with a 77.7 pass-rush grade per Pro Football Focus which ranked eighth out of all interior defensive linemen in the NFL. Collins played on a career-high 71 percent of defensive snaps in 2019 and recorded a whopping 48 pressures.

As a result, he finished with the fourth-highest pass-rush win rate in the entire league behind only Aaron Donald, Grady Jarrett, and Chris Jones. That’s some very impressive company to be compared to.

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And at just 24-years-old, Collins was one of the youngest players to hit unrestricted free agency this year. The combination of his excellent athletic profile, impressive pass-rushing traits, and young age make this a high-upside signing with oodles of potential.

The details of the contract haven’t been released at the time of writing, but it’s unlikely the Raiders broke the bank for him. After all, the Cowboys simply opted to let Collins walk in free agency.

That begs the question, why did the Cowboys let him walk?

Dallas has impressive depth at the defensive tackle position and just selected young 21-year-old Trysten Hill in the second round of last year’s draft. With their tight cap situation, the Cowboys opted to go cheaper relying on the likes of Hill and Antwaun Woods.

But Collins will undoubtedly be out to prove that Dallas made a mistake.

Despite a crowded defensive tackle rotation in Las Vegas, Collins should have no trouble cracking the starting lineup. He still has some improvement to make as a run defender, but Collins could make an early-impact on passing downs while also possibly starting at the three-technique.

His arrival could force Maurice Hurst to play more of a one-technique role if the Raiders are intent on having their two best pass-rushers start on the interior.

Of course, the likes of Johnathan Hankins and P.J. Hall will also be competing for time at that spot as well as free-agent signing Carl Nassib who is effective as an interior pass-rusher too.

But Collins likely has the highest upside of all of them and his recent production provides plenty of reason for hope.

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He may not be a known commodity just yet, but Raiders fans should soon learn all about Maliek Collins and exactly what he brings to the table.