Is Rock Ya-Sin the key to the Raiders 2022 defense?

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The Las Vegas Raiders have added plenty of new faces on the defensive side of the ball, but is Rock Ya-Sin the key defense in 2022?

When the Raiders entered the offseason, there were rumors that owner Mark Davis would be okay with the Raiders taking a step back from their playoff success to really build a lasting winner. However, as the Raiders embarked on free agency, those supposed plans must have changed.

Not only did the Raiders trade valuable draft assets for one of football’s best wide receivers in Davante Adams, but they also gave Chandler Jones a huge contract to the former Patriot and Cardinals passer. The deal for Jones came despite a highly productive 2021 season for free agent award-winning thrower Yannick Ngakoue.

Ngakoue and fan favorite Maxx Crosby have combined to form one of the deadliest duos in the league. However, when it became clear the Raiders could land a legendary pass thrower who better fits Patrick Graham’s system and is a better run defender, general manager David Ziegler opted to trade Ngakoue to the Colts from Indianapolis against cornerback Rock Ya-Sin.

The team essentially swapped 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 on the 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 first-round hype. He was selected out of Temple by the Colts where he immediately became a starter and continued to start in his 3 seasons at Indianapolis. Ya-Sin has never demonstrated any lock-in or ball-peddling ability, but he has continued to improve over his 3 seasons and the Raiders brass have clearly loved him for quite some time.

Ya-Sin doesn’t really do anything revolutionary, but it does a lot of things well. If he can fill the void left by Casey Heyward, as a solid covering corner who doesn’t get beat often and is a safe tackler, the Raiders will be pleased. However, Ya-Sin enters his season at 26, which is often the sweet spot for many players,

Ya-Sin has the pedigree and skills to become an above average corner and that could be key. Trayvon Mullen looked like he was on his way to a career season before injuries derailed his 2021, but he’s a solid player who should benefit from Graham’s system. Hobbs proved to be a steal and was one of the best slot corners in the NFL as a rookie.

Those two, coupled with Trevon Moehrig, a free-safety center field type, should cover any gaps in Johnathan Abram’s position. Ya-Sin becoming a top corner would take that defense to a whole new level.

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