Rock Ya-Sin

AFC West Notes: Reed, Raiders, Chargers

With Bradley Chubb and Von Miller suffering injuries at various points from 2019-21, the Broncos could rarely deploy their ideal edge-rushing combination. That led to extensive Malik Reed work. The 2019 UDFA has made 34 starts over the past three seasons and racked up 13 sacks over the past two. However, the Broncos have since signed Randy Gregory, drafted Nik Bonitto in Round 2 and moved 2021 inside linebacker starter Baron Browning to the edge. This creates a crowded depth chart, which features Chubb in his fifth-year option season. Reed is also going into a contract year, and ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold’s 53-man roster prediction leaves the Nevada product off the team. Reed’s status could depend on Gregory’s recovery from offseason shoulder surgery, per Legwold, with the Broncos potentially going with a special-teamer over Reed if Gregory is healthy. If the Broncos determine Reed is not on track to make their team, he would be a logical trade candidate. Reed is attached to a $2.43MM salary.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • The Raiders were active at defensive tackle this offseason. They re-signed Johnathan Hankins and brought in free agents Vernon Butler, Andrew Billings, Tyler Lancaster, Kyle Peko and Bilal Nichols. The team also used fourth- and fifth-round picks (Neil Farrell Jr. and Matthew Butler) on interior D-linemen. Of this group, Nichols projects as a starter, The Athletic’s Vic Tafur and Tashan Reed note (subscription required). Hankins, who has been a Raiders first-stringer for the past four seasons, should be ticketed to keep his starter gig under new DC Patrick Graham. Among the host of veterans brought in as free agents, Nichols’ contract (two years, $11MM) would point to him having the clearest starter path. The Raiders have been linked to Ndamukong Suh, but they might not be especially interested in signing him right now.
  • Despite the Raiders changing defensive schemes and letting Casey Hayward defect to the Falcons in free agency, they are unlikely to tinker with Nate Hobbs‘ job. The second-year cornerback practiced exclusively in the slot during Las Vegas’ offseason program and will still expected to be the team’s slot defender, per Tafur and Reed. Coming into the league as a fifth-round pick, Hobbs graded as a top-10 corner as a rookie, per Pro Football Focus. Trade acquisition Rock Ya-Sin and free agent signing Anthony Averett worked as Vegas’ slot corners this summer, with starter Trayvon Mullen on the mend after a May foot surgery. Mullen missed 12 games last season, with foot trouble at the root of the absence. The recent surgery makes Mullen’s status something to monitor during camp.
  • The Chargers have taken an aggressive approach to filling offensive line needs over the past two offseasons. They gave Corey Linsley a then-record center contract and also signed guard Matt Feiler. Those moves came before the Bolts drafted Rashawn Slater in Round 1. They selected Zion Johnson in this year’s first round, and he is expected to start at right guard. That leaves right tackle vacant, with 2020’s Bryan Bulaga signing not panning out. The Bolts used Storm Norton as their primary 2021 starter, but Trey Pipkins started a game apiece at left and right tackle — due to the starters’ COVID-19 contractions — last year. Those two starts elevated the former third-round pick’s status in the Chargers building, Daniel Popper of The Athletic notes. Pipkins’ progress will be put to the test when he battles Norton for the right tackle gig in camp.

Raiders To Trade Yannick Ngakoue To Colts For Rock Ya-Sin

Minutes after agreeing to terms with Chandler Jones, the Raiders are clearing out a starting spot and a salary slot for the All-Pro pass rusher. They are expected to trade Yannick Ngakoue to the Colts, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Cornerback Rock Ya-Sin is coming back in the deal. The Raiders and Colts have been working on this swap for the past day or so, Rapoport adds (on Twitter). Las Vegas, understandably, did not pull the trigger on a deal until its Jones agreement came through. No draft picks are changing hands; this is a player-for-player swap. This trade will cost the Raiders $8MM in dead money.

The Colts will be Ngakoue’s fifth team in the past three seasons. The former Jaguars standout made his way to the Vikings, Ravens and Raiders from 2020-21, being dealt late in the summer of 2020 and then being moved before that season’s deadline. After signing with Las Vegas, Ngakoue is being traded for a third time. Ngakoue, who will turn 27 later this month, registered 10 sacks last season. The former third-round pick has 20 forced fumbles over the course of his six-year career.

This will give the Colts a veteran edge presence they lacked last season and provide DeForest Buckner with a proven outside sack artist. The Colts used first- and second-round picks on defensive ends in the 2021 draft — Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo — and will now spend some cash on the position. After the Carson Wentz trade, Indianapolis entered free agency with its usual cap-space war chest. Ngakoue is signed through the 2022 season, on a $13MM-per-year accord.

While this trade will reunite Ngakoue with Gus Bradley, the Jaguars’ head coach when Ngakoue was drafted and the Raiders’ DC when he arrived in Vegas last year, it will send Ya-Sin to a Raiders team in need at cornerback. After a bounce-back year with Bradley, Casey Hayward is a free agent. A 2019 second-round pick, Ya-Sin will come to Vegas with one year remaining on his rookie contract.

Ya-Sin started 29 games with the Colts. While the Temple product has not played at a Pro Bowl level and only has two interceptions as a pro, the Raiders will shed salary here and land a player with considerable experience. After an up-and-down start to his career, Ya-Sin finished the 2021 season with a career-best 53% completion rate allowed when targeted. Pro Football Focus assigned Ya-Sin the fifth-best man-coverage grade last season.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 12/29/21

Several key players returned to practice Wednesday. Here are the latest COVID-19 updates from around the league:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Activated from practice squad/COVID-19 list: WR Rico Bussey

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Colts Reached Out To Philip Rivers

The NFL revising its COVID-19 protocols yet again may allow the Colts to dodge a bullet. Carson Wentz is unvaccinated and tested positive Tuesday, but Frank Reich said he would start Sunday if he is asymptomatic, Stephen Holder of The Athletic tweets. Current Colts backup Sam Ehlinger would start if Wentz is experiencing symptoms at that point.

Reich has also remained in contact with the Colts’ 2020 starter, Philip Rivers. The two discussed the current Colts QB bind, Zak Keefer of The Athletic tweets. However, it does not seem like Rivers will come out of retirement to replace Wentz. Reich said nothing is developing on that front.

Rivers, 40, retired after spending last season with the Colts, but the current high school coach has said he would consider a return to join a contender. He was open to joining the Saints once Jameis Winston went down earlier this season. In his one Colts season, Rivers completed 68% of his passes and finished with a 24-to-11 TD-INT ratio. The Colts traded for Wentz not long after Rivers’ retirement.

Had the NFL not revised its protocols for a second time this month, Wentz would be shut down for Week 17 due to his positive test. Previously, unvaccinated players who tested positive were forced into 10-day quarantines. The NFL has reduced that to five, opening the door for Wentz to play Sunday. A sixth-round rookie, Ehlinger took first-team reps for a stretch after Wentz went down with a foot injury during training camp.

The Colts received more good news regarding their COVID-19 situation Wednesday. They activated offensive line starters Quenton Nelson and Mark Glowinski, along with cornerback Rock Ya-Sin and defensive end Kemoko Turay. However, right tackle Braden Smith is now on Indianapolis’ virus list. Smith could rejoin his teammates Sunday, however, regardless of vaccination status. Like Wentz, if Smith is not displaying symptoms, he could return Sunday against the Raiders. Smith was the Colts’ lone O-line starter available by the end of Week 16, but the team will have more of its starters on hand against Las Vegas.

Marlon Mack, cornerback T.J. Carrie, safety Jahleel Addae and linebacker Malik Jefferson join Smith as players now on Indy’s virus list.

Colts Place CB Rock Ya-Sin On Reserve/COVID-19 List

The Colts lost a pair of defensive players to the COVID-19 list today. The team announced that cornerback Rock Ya-Sin and pass rusher specialist Kemoko Turay landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. This will make it tough for the duo to play on Saturday evening against the Cardinals.

Ya-Sin was a second-round pick by Indy in 2019, and he’s evolved into the team’s most dependable defensive back. The 25-year-old has seen time in 11 games (six starts) this season, collecting 26 tackles and six passes defended.

If Ya-Sin is forced to miss the matchup against the Cardinals, the team will likely turn to second-year cornerback Isaiah Rodgers.

Turay was also a second-round pick by the Colts, getting selected in 2018 out of Rutgers. The 26-year-old is having one of his best NFL seasons in 2021, compiling a career-high five sacks in 11 games. While the linebacker’s role is mostly matchup-dependent, Ben Banogu could see an uptick in snaps if Turay is forced to miss this weekend’s game.

 

NFL COVID List Updates: 12/22/21

We’ve compiled a list of players who were placed or activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list today. In some instances (including Christian McCaffrey and Travis Etienne), players activated from the list remain on IR:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Placed on list: T Le’Raven Clark

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Colts GM Discusses Draft Strategy, Ya-Sin, Seahawks

Chris Ballard‘s first season as Colts GM didn’t necessarily go as planned. While the executive focused on a complete roster makeover, the Colts 4-12 record was surely disappointing. Fortunately, the team took a step forward in 2019, and that was partly attributed to Ballard’s work during the offseason.

Ballard fired Chuck Pagano after the campaign, and following a fiasco with Patriots coordinator Josh McDaniels, the organization ended up hiring Frank Reich as their new head coach. The organization also hit a home run during the draft, as Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard became the first rookie teammates to earn All Pro First-Team honors since 1965. The Colts ended up going 10-6 during the regular season before losing in the Divisional Round, and Ballard earned the 2018 NFL Executive of the Year award from the Pro Football Writers Association.

The organization will now look to build off their progress from 2018, and the Colts appear to be a shoo-in to at least make the playoffs. However, before the season begins, Ballard decided to take on a bit of a different role.

The Colts GM filled in on Peter King’s Football Morning in America column, and he provided some fascinating insight regarding the team’s draft strategy. The entire article is worth reading (Ballard went on a tangent describing why running back Edgerrin James should be in the Hall of Fame), but we’ve compiled some of the notable soundbites below.

What the front office values when evaluating draft picks:

We define football character as a player’s work ethic, passion for the game, football intelligence, competitive nature, and teamness. If any of these areas are weak, the chances of the player busting and not fitting in our locker room becomes greater. An NFL season is long and hard. The character of each individual player and the entire team shows up, either good or bad, during the hard times. It is difficult to get through a rough stretch if your players don’t have mental toughness.

We go the extra mile to delve into players and see how they’ll fit. You are telling the locker room every time you draft a player, “this is what we stand for.” If you bring in someone with a poor work ethic, or someone who is selfish, or someone who is unwilling to put in the work, you’re telling the locker room that that’s OK. Jerry Angelo used to say all the time that the talent of a player will tell you his ceiling, but his football character determines his floor. It’s critical to get that right, so we know the floor.

On second-round cornerback Rock Ya-Sin:

Let’s take our first pick this year, Temple cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, and examine the process of how we reached our final decision, from the initial scouting report to draft day.

What traits make up an Colts cornerback? Is it possible to pick a Colts cornerback out of a crowd? The answer is yes and there are a few things we look for. Ya-Sin had them all:

• Size and length. Ya-Sin is 5-foot-11 with 32-inch arms, which are considered long for a cornerback.

• Instincts and ball skills. Yup.

• Toughness. It’s impossible to play our scheme if you’re not tough. Frank Reich’s definition of toughness: A relentless pursuit to get better every day; an obsession to finish. Ya-Sin is a two-time state champion high school wrestler, fitting this definition to a T.

Some of these traits might seem generic, and, yes, you can find most of these qualities if you look hard enough. However, each player is not always drawn up that way.

On the Colts’ unique interviewing process:

When I first took the job in Indianapolis, I wanted to find an expert who could help us get to the core of a player’s football character. We found the perfect person in Brian Decker, a former Green Beret and now our director of player development. He uses a model he developed in the military and applies toward our interview process. He interviews every prospect on our draft board and teaches our scouts specific interviewing techniques.

I am not going to give away any trade secrets but here are the five questions Decker wants to get the answers to:

• Does this player have a favorable developmental profile?

• Does he have a profile that supports handling pressure and adversity?

• Does he have a good learning and decision-making capacity?

• Is he a character risk and, if so, what can we do to help support him?

• Is he a fit?

On the team’s draft maneuverings:

On draft night, we felt like we would have a chance to move back in the draft and pick up an extra pick that weekend or in a future year. We have a strong belief that the more picks that we can acquire, the better it is for our team in the end. We don’t want to pass up a difference-making player so we are very thorough working through every scenario before we make the decision to move.

Ya-Sin was one of the players we considered taking as our No. 26 pick in the first round before we got a call from the Redskins. We felt like Washington’s 2019 second-round pick and the extra second-round selection in the 2020 draft was a very good offer and would be worth the trade back with the players we still had on the board. What also helped was that our No. 34 pick, acquired from the Jets the previous year, was only eight picks away.

The next day, there were five players we still liked who were available at No. 34, and the draft room was split. Half of the room thought we should trade again and acquire another second and third-round pick, and the other half wanted to stay at No. 34 and pick Ya-Sin.

On what rival team deserves credit for their team-building strategies:

John Schneider and his staff in Seattle do not get enough credit for what they have done in the past two years. They built a great team, won a Super Bowl and lost another on one of the great plays in NFL history by New England. Like all great things, they eventually come to an end, but what John and his staff have done to retool Seattle’s roster on the fly is tremendous work. They have completely rebuilt what was one of the greatest defenses in NFL history and acquired a bunch of young, talented defenders and have a chance to dominate again on defense.

Colts Sign Rock Ya-Sin, Parris Campbell

Nine of the 10 Colts draft picks are now signed. Two second-rounders — cornerback Rock Ya-Sin and wide receiver Parris Campbell — signed their rookie deals on Monday, the Colts announced.

This leaves only third-round linebacker Bobby Okereke unsigned. This is not atypical, due to the CBA’s vague language regarding third-rounders’ contracts. Many third-rounders remain unsigned around the league.

The Colts, who have made seven second-round picks over the past two years, traded out of the first round but stuck at their No. 34 slot to select Ya-Sin. The 6-foot cornerback played just one season of major college football, at Temple, after transferring from Presbyterian College after the university dropped football. Ya-Sin became a hot commodity during the pre-draft process and will be in the mix for immediate playing time.

Campbell led Ohio State in receiving yards (1,063) as a senior, becoming Dwayne Haskins‘ top target during the first-round pick’s lone season as the Buckeyes’ starter. Both Campbell and the Redskins’ Terry McLaurin (701 yards) were Day 2 picks, but Campbell’s 12 touchdown receptions led the team as well. Campbell’s 90 catches marked a single-season school record. Campbell will join Devin Funchess and 2018 sixth-rounder Deon Cain as new cogs for Andrew Luck, assuming Cain completes his recovery from an ACL tear.

King’s Latest: Giants, Bosa, Steelers, Sweat

Connected to two positions primarily throughout the pre-draft process, the Giants appear certain to fill one of those early. Dave Gettleman wants a pass rusher “in the worst way,” a veteran NFL exec told NBC Sports’ Peter King, before adding the team will draft an edge player with one of its first three picks. New York holds picks 6, 17 and 37 but also has been understandably linked to quarterbacks after passing on them early in last year’s draft. The Giants have met with just about every top- and second-tier pass-rushing, hosting Nick Bosa, Josh Allen, Ed Oliver, Quinnen Williams, Rashan Gary, Brian Burns, Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence, Jaylon Ferguson on visits. After trading away Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon in consecutive offseasons, the Giants boast one of the most edge defender-needy depth charts in the game. Their Vernon-powered pass-rushing group last year registered just 30 sacks.

While the Giants may be zeroing in on Dwayne Haskins, they have also done work on possible second-round quarterbacks Will Grier and Jarrett Stidham — in the event Gettleman would dare push his post-Eli Manning QB need to 2020 and prioritize pass rushers early. He has said he would not view a non-first-round pick as a legitimate long-term quarterback solution.

Here is the latest from the draft world, courtesy of the veteran reporter:

  • Adding some intrigue to the Cardinals‘ situation: they believe Bosa is a generational prospect. While King still has them selecting Kyler Murray at No. 1, the report they are not totally committed to this yet — despite just about everything we’ve heard in recent weeks — is a bit more interesting. Bosa visited the Cardinals earlier this month and would obviously fill the team’s need opposite Chandler Jones.
  • While defensive line and linebacker prospects figure to populate the ESPN ticker early in Thursday night’s draft, secondary pieces may not come off the board until the second part of the opening round. One of the teams in need of cornerback help may have a preference. Mike Tomlin “loves” Temple’s Rock Ya-Sin, King writes. The Steelers have a linebacker need too but did sign Mark Barron to pair with Vince Williams. Their 2016 first-round investment of Artie Burns has not paid off, so Pittsburgh’s No. 20 spot may well be a cornerback destination. Ya-Sin, who played at Presbyterian (S.C.) prior to playing one season at Temple, visited the Steelers this month.
  • Brian Burns‘ stock has risen recently, and King mocks the Florida State product to the Bengals at No. 11. Burns ran a 4.53-second 40-yard dash at the Combine and is one of many high-caliber front-seven players available.
  • Another member of that group’s fortune has not been as kind. Montez Sweat will not attend the draft. Some teams have taken the Mississippi State product off their draft boards, and it is now possible he falls out of the first round. Reportedly diagnosed with an enlarged heart, Sweat may have some teams willing to take a chance on him early. One GM told King that Sweat will have an issue with his heart going forward, but if it’s closely monitored, the talented defender can have a career. That would be a boon for someone’s defense, with Sweat blazing to a 4.41-second 40 at the Combine and combining for 23 sacks between the 2017-18 seasons. Another GM informed King he believes Sweat’s upside is higher than Bosa’s, adding further intrigue to this situation.

North Notes: Bears, Anderson, Steelers

Anthony Miller showed promise for the Bears as a rookie, hauling in seven touchdown receptions and being a key player from the outset of the team’s NFC North championship season. The Memphis product dealt with a shoulder injury, however, for much of the season. Miller said he dislocated his shoulder at least five times during his rookie campaign, with Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune noting the first such dislocation came in September and the last had him a shell of his optimal version. By season’s end, Miller had faded, finishing his first regular season with a four-catch, 25-yard December. Miller underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in January and expects to be limited throughout the Bears’ offseason program, per Kane, but understandably anticipates a production increase as an NFL sophomore — should he sufficiently recover from this ailment.

Here is the latest from the North divisions:

  • Details are in on C.J. Anderson‘s Lions deal, courtesy of Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. The veteran running back’s one-year agreement is worth nearly $1.5MM and can max out at $3MM (Twitter links). Anderson received $200K to sign. Anderson signed for one year and nearly $1.7MM with the Panthers last year. Both of these agreements represent steep pay reductions when compared to Anderson’s previous four-year, $18MM Broncos pact. But the 27-year-old back stands to play a key part in Detroit’s backfield this season, perhaps setting him up for another contract in 2020.
  • Despite the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger having been engaged in extension discussions for more than a month, no impasse between the parties exists, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes. While the Steelers have spoken with Big Ben’s agent, Ryan Tollner, little dialogue has transpired between the Steelers and their 16th-year quarterback, Dulac adds. One year and $23.2MM remain on Roethlisberger’s current deal. Despite entering his age-37 season, Roethlisberger stands to take on even greater importance this coming year — considering the caliber of players the Steelers recently lost.
  • The Steelers are doing some research on higher-end cornerbacks in this year’s draft, hosting Rock Ya-Sin and Justin Layne on pre-draft visits Friday, Ray Fittipaldo of the Post-Gazette notes. A former Division I-FCS transfer who played just one season at Temple, the 6-foot Ya-Sin nevertheless rates as the No. 29 overall prospect on NFL.com draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah’s board. A converted wide receiver, the 6-2 Layne started two seasons as a corner at Michigan State.
  • After a three-arrest offseason, running back Mark Walton received his walking papers from the Bengals.