Key Raiders to keep an eye on Week 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers
The Raiders signed All-Pro edge rusher Chandler Jones this offseason, and in a corresponding move, ’21 Pro Bowl alternate Yannick Ngakoue was shipped to the Indianapolis Colts for Rock Ya-Sin.
Ya-sin isn’t a household name, but he is a special player. During the ’21 season, Ya-Sin’s 26.7% completion percentage allowed in man coverage was the best in the league. On 15 throws his way, only 4 were completed. By the numbers, the Raiders’ new cornerback allowed one reception every 25.5 snaps in man coverage.
Unsurprisingly, Ya-Sin finished with a top-five grade in man coverage via Pro Football Focus grading system.
The Raiders’ main three cornerbacks for the upcoming season will be Nate Hobbs, Anthony Averett, and Rock Ya-Sin.
We know Hobbs will be fine; after all, he was the highest-graded cornerback when lined up in the slot last season. You know how I just got done talking about Ya-Sin’s excellence in man coverage during his ’21 campaign? No rookie cornerback league-wide, Samuel Jr. and Surtain II included, allowed fewer yards in man coverage than Hobbs. That’s a strength of his as well.
As for Averett, no cornerback allowed a lower opposing quarterback rating in the first month of the ’21 season than him. At the league’s end, Averett was ranked tenth on PFF’s list of top cornerbacks in press coverage.
Needless to say, this unit should be absolutely dominant in man coverage.
Hobbs will likely rotate between the inside and outside this year, so I could’ve gone with him to start things off. Like Ya-Sin, Averett is a newcomer, so he could’ve been my first pick as well. Really, I could’ve (and arguably should’ve) rolled with the cornerback unit as a whole. In the end, the player that was acquired in the Ngakoue trade was my choice.