Raiders Had One of NFL’s Best Value Signings, Says Analyst

jon gruden

Getty Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden.

The Las Vegas Raiders spent some big money in free agency and added some serious talent. Cory Littleton, Carl Nassib and Nick Kwiatkowski all earned pretty strong contracts and should help the defense tremendously. However, the team picked up a very underrated player and they got him for incredibly cheap.

Former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Maliek Collins is coming to Las Vegas on a one-year $6 million contract. According to ESPN’s Seth Walder, that could be one of the best value signings in free agency:

Though Chris Jones was far and away the defensive tackle prize of the offseason, from a pass-rushing perspective our metrics indicate that Collins was the next-best bet. The former Cowboy ranked fourth in pass rush win rate among defensive tackles last season. But what makes that particularly impressive is that he did so on a Dallas defense that didn’t blitz a ton, so he was double-teamed at an above-average rate compared to his defensive tackle peers.

Collins isn’t a household name and has never been to the Pro Bowl, but he’s perhaps one of the most underrated interior pass rushers in the NFL. The Raiders get almost no pressure from the middle of its defensive line. Collins could seriously help fix that issue.

Collins’ Stats Don’t Show How Good of a Pass Rusher He Is

Though there is a lot of excitement around the Collins signing, his stats don’t exactly stick out. He only notched four sacks last season and has never gotten over five in a year. However, Walder pointed out that Collins’ stats are misleading:

Though he had only four sacks last season, he did have seven sacks created — a stat in which we attribute credit for a sack to the player who earned the first pass-rush win on the play rather than the one who finished the sack. Only 12 other players had three-plus more sacks created than sacks last season.

Of course, pass rushing is only a part of the equation for a defensive tackle, but at one year and $6 million, Collins is an easily identifiable bargain even looking at just pass-rush ability. And the cherry on top is that Collins is reuniting with Rod Marinelli in Las Vegas after playing so well under the former Cowboys defensive coordinator last season.

How the Raiders were able to get Collins for so cheap was pretty surprising and the fact that he’s reuniting with Marinelli should only make his transition easy. He could be in for a breakout year in 2020 and follow it up with a massive payday in 2021.

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Collins Should Pair up Nicely With Maurice Hurst

The Raiders didn’t create a ton of pressure inside, but they do have one player who can get to the quarterback. Maurice Hurst might just be the most underrated player on the team’s defense. Pro Football Focus gave him the highest grade of any Raider defender from 2019 and he finished with a better pass-rushing grade than Maxx Crosby. Hurst only got 3.5 sacks last season, but having a player like Collins lined up next to him should only free him up.

Hurst and Collins on third down could be a lethal combination for the Raiders.

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