The Las Vegas Raiders added some depth and hard-hitting to their cornerback room Thursday after agreeing to send edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue to the Indianapolis Colts in return for rising star cornerback Rock Ya-Sin.
Going into his fourth NFL season, Ya-Sin has proven to be a productive player in the league since he was drafted out of Temple in the second round. He's compiled 130 total tackles and 20 pass deflections while with the Colts and will look to continue his success as a Raiders
"They just wanted me to come in and compete, get better every day. Bring intensity and competitiveness to the room," Rock Ya-Sin said of joining the team during his introductory press conference.
Here are a few things to know about the Raiders' new cornerback.
The man behind the Rock
Rock is an extremely adequate nickname for a cornerback a physical as Ya-Sin. It's a nickname he acquired a while ago, growing up in Atlanta, Georgia. Ya-Sin – who's real name is Abdurrahman – put his game and his nickname on the map in his senior season of college after transferring from Presbyterian to Temple University. As an Owl, Ya-Sin had 47 total tackles, 12 pass deflections, two interceptions and was first team All-AAC.
"'Rock' was a nickname I got growing up," Ya-Sin told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "One day, people started calling me Rock. It just stuck."
Rock 'n' roll wrestler
Rock Ya-Sin didn't step on a football field until his senior season of high school. Before that, he was a state champion wrestler.
He could've easily picked up a wrestling scholarship after winning back-to-back Georgia state championships at Southwest DeKalb High School. However, the high school's football team was able to recruit him off the mat to give football a try.
"I just told him to try it," said Keith Johnson, Ya-Sin's high school wrestling coach. "He was a wrestler, and wrestling was only going to take him so far. Wrestling helps you with discipline. He already had the discipline. He'd already won state twice. Let's try football and give him another avenue."
The two-time state champion used that other avenue to excel in football his senior year, leading to him accepting a football scholarship at Presbyterian.
Before he was traded to the Silver and Black, Ya-Sin was a headache for the Raiders offense at times. The corner has four pass deflections in his three career games against the Raiders. Despite his personal success against his new team, he has a career 1-2 record against the Raiders – including the 23-20 loss that helped the Raiders land a wild-card berth over his former Colts.
Reaching the peak
Ya-Sin's third NFL season was his best to date. He's coming off a career-high eight pass deflections and a 72.2 PFF pass coverage grade in eight starts for the Colts. He also allowed a low 26.6 percent completion rating in man coverage last season. The cornerback, who will be 26 in May, looks to have some of his best football ahead – with a lot that he wants to prove in the Silver and Black.
"I feel like I've continued to get better. I feel like I've ascended each year," he said. "[N]othing is given to me, I just come out and work hard every day. I try to be the hardest worker in the room because sooner or later, it pays off. And you might not see it right now, but sooner or later it will pay off and it's paid off so far for me in my career.
"And hopefully it will continue to pay off."
View photos of new Raiders cornerback Rock Ya-Sin in action. Over 41 games, Ya-Sin has recorded 138 tackles, 20 pass deflections, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.