Houston Texans: Maliek Collins provides much needed help to d-line

Houston Texans, Maliek Collins

Defensive tackle Maliek Collins (97) signs with the Houston Texans Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Again, the Houston Texans haven’t been making blockbuster free agent signings which will be franchise-altering, but they are adding to the depth of their roster, and the addition of defensive tackle Maliek Collins is one such signing.

The interior defensive line took a hit in 2020 when the Houston Texans didn’t re-sign D.J. Reader in free agency, and though the Texans drafted Ross Blacklock and had others in that interior defensive line role of their then 3-4 scheme, things just didn’t work out well.

Fast-forward to the 2021 offseason, and with Lovie Smith now leading the defense as the new defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans, the addition of Collins in the 4-3 scheme of Smith will and should prove to be helpful for the franchise moving ahead.

With four down linemen, including two interior defensive linemen for the Smith “Tampa 2” defense the Texans will run this season, it is evident the depth at defensive tackle needed to be addressed. With Collins, the Texans are adding yet another veteran player who can contribute in a positive manner.

Collins signed a one-year deal for up to $6 million, so with this being a short-term offer, it will be interesting to see how Collins performs knowing another deal could be on the line.

In 2020 as a member of the Las Vegas Raiders, Collins collected 15 tackles total with seven of those being solo tackles. Collins with the Raiders played in 46 percent of their defensive snaps in ’20 (504 plays), but also played in 12 percent of Las Vegas’ special teams snaps (54 plays).

Houston Texans: Maliek Collins played 4 years with Dallas Cowboys

In his first four seasons in the league, Collins played for the Dallas Cowboys, where in ’19 he played in 763 snaps (71 percent) on defense. That season (’19), Collins totaled 15 solo tackles, six tackles for loss and he had 10 QB hits.

If the Houston Texans can get the player Collins was in ’19 with the Cowboys, there will be a very noticeable improvement up front for Houston as that season he played in 16 games. With the Raiders in ’20, Collins played in 12 games, making 11 starts.

This should be a favorite signing of Houston Texans fans because at least Collins can provide some much-needed depth at the defensive tackle position, and there is a chance he can be the player he was in ’19 compared to what he accomplished in ’20.

If healthy and on the field for a majority of the season, playing alongside second-year player Blacklock will help the progression of the career of Blacklock as well, which is important as Houston spent a second-round pick on him last year.

If all goes to plan for Collins and the Houston Texans, then playing in the Tampa 2 defense of Smith should be a better overall product on defense compared to last season. If that happens, there is no doubt that Collins will be a contributor to the possible turnaround of Houston’s defense in ’21.