The Las Vegas Raiders added many new faces on the defensive side of the ball, but is Rock Ya-Sin the key to the defense in 2022?
When the Raiders entered the offseason, there were rumblings that Owner Mark Davis would be okay with the Raiders taking a step back from their playoff success to truly build a sustainable winner. However, as the Raiders embarked on free agency, those rumored plans must have changed.
Not only did the Raiders trade valuable draft assets for one of the top wide receivers in football with Davante Adams, but they also gave former Patriot and Cardinals pass rusher Chandler Jones a massive contract. The deal for Jones came despite a very productive 2021 season for free-agent prize pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue.
Ngakoue and fan-favorite Maxx Crosby combined to form one of the more lethal pass-rushing duos in the league. However, when it became clear that the Raiders could land a legendary pass rusher who fits Patrick Graham’s system better and is a better run defender, General Manager David Ziegler chose to trade Ngakoue to the Indianapolis Colts for cornerback Rock Ya-Sin.
The team essentially swapped out Ngakoue for Jones and Ya-Sin, two players who should provide an upgrade to an improving defense.
Is Rock Ya-Sin the key to the Raiders’ defense?
Ya-Sin is expected to start outside opposite Trayvon Mullen and alongside Nate Hobbs in the secondary. The team also brought in Anthony Averett to compete with Mullen and Ya-Sin and provide depth. Ya-Sin is an intriguing player for the Raiders due to his pedigree, youth, and experience.
Ya-Sin was drafted in the second round of the 2019 draft, even having some first-round hype. He was selected out of Temple by the Colts where he immediately became a starter and has continued to start in his 3 seasons in Indianapolis. Ya-Sin has never demonstrated lockdown or ball-hawking ability but he’s continued to improve in his 3 seasons and the Raiders brass clearly has liked him for some time.
Ya-Sin doesn’t really do anything game-breaking but he does a lot of things well. If he can fill the void left by Casey Heyward, as a solid cover corner who doesn’t get beat often and is a sure tackler, the Raiders will be pleased. However, Ya-Sin is entering his age 26 season which is often the sweet spot for many players to break out,
Ya-Sin has the pedigree and skill to become an above-average corner and that could be key. Trayvon Mullen seemed on his way to a career season before injuries derailed his 2021, but he is a solid player who should benefit from Graham’s system. Hobbs proved to be a steal and was one of the better slot corners in the NFL as a rookie.
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Those two, coupled with Trevon Moehrig, a center field type of free safety, should cover for any deficiencies from the Johnathan Abram position. Ya-Sin becoming a top corner would take this defense to a whole new level.