INDIANAPOLIS – Chris Ballard remains a believer in Rock Ya-Sin.
Because of the position Ya-Sin plays, because of the type of worker he is and because of the GM’s history.
When Ballard is asked about his 2019 second-round pick, he points out the good and bad, and also recounts a player that will turn some heads.
“Rock had his good moments, and he had his rough moments, no different than a lot of second-year corners,” Ballard says.
“I’ll tell you a story, I’m reminded of Charles Tillman, who I think is a Hall of Fame player. I’ll never forget, I think it was Charles’ 2nd or 3rd year playing, we played Carolina in the playoffs and Steve Smith just had a monster day against him. Charles Tillman went on to have a great career.
“It’s hard to play corner in this league. The rules make it hard. They call PI on any freaking bump that happens. It is very difficult to play corner.”
As the NFL game has evolved into a more pass-happy league, DBs have certainly felt the brunt of flags.
Still, Ya-Sin’s performance in Year Two was a regression, even if the numbers are very similar to his rookie campaign.
The Colts really scaled back the play time for Ya-Sin, who played the most snaps of any Colts defender in 2019, as last season came to a close.
In a Week 11 win over the Packers, Ya-Sin played 93 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. After that game though, the team opted to use veteran T.J. Carrie much more, with Ya-Sin’s weekly snap counts dipping to 38%, 45%, 68%, 33% and 57%, before a Week 16 concussion ended the young corner’s season.
Projecting a notable jump in Year Two did not happen for Ya-Sin.
In Ya-Sin’s rookie season, a fundamental breakdown in his technique led to him committing 9 penalties.
A different flaw for Ya-Sin arose in 2020 with quarterbacks frequently targeting him down the stretch, as the Colts pass defense struggled to close the season.
With the 2021 offseason here, the Colts face questions at cornerback.
Xavier Rhodes is a free agent after having a great season in 2020.
Questions about Ya-Sin though have mixed feelings on how the Colts should view the need at cornerback.
New cornerbacks coach James Rowe will be the one tasked with trying to get Ya-Sin to play at the level of what the Colts thought when they selected him No. 34 overall.
And Ballard remains a believer in that Ya-Sin’s time in Indy won’t end like Quincy Wilson, another second-round corner under Ballard.
“Rock knows he has to make some improvement,” the GM says. “But I think he has the right mental attitude to do it. We think he will work and get better.”