The writing team at Stampede Blue put considerable time and energy into learning as much as possible about the 2019 NFL Draft class. Hours of film work were dedicated to numerous players at each position. We attempted to gauge a player’s likelihood for success based upon athleticism, technical skills, and intangibles. We identified players who were schematic fits, based upon what Matt Eberflus likes to do, and did our best to consider team leadership and character in the evaluation as well.
What we didn’t spend enough time on is looking beyond a players rewards, recognition, status as a captain, and general reputation, and more into identifying players who have stood on their own as leaders in the community, role models, and who have stories that led them to the NFL Draft that might indicate their mettle. If we had focused more time to this aspect of player evaluation, no doubt we would have identified a smaller group of players who the Colts were likely to target.
I plan to look back at each of the Colts draft picks, or at least those where I can find information, to identify some of the things that stood out, and would have surely moved these players higher in our evaluations. Today, we start with Rock Ya-Sin.
CB Rock Ya-Sin
For those who don’t already know, Rock Ya-Sin entered the NFL Draft as one of the biggest risers at his position. He played only one season at Temple, and had strong production (47 tackles, 2 for a loss, 2 interceptions and 12 passes defensed), but really turned heads at the Senior Bowl, as the only corner to really give wide receiver Deebo Samuel fits. He is 6’0” and weighs 192 lbs. He ran a 4.51 second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, to go along with 18 bench reps (tied for second at his position), and a 39.5 inch vertical jump (tied for fifth).
For more about his abilities on the field, see the scouting report below.
None of these things tell Ya-Sin’s story, though. They don’t talk about what he is made of, what kind of teammate he might be, or what makes him worthy of such a high pick in the NFL Draft. To really understand what might go into Colts’ scouts heads on this decision, we need to talk about who Rock Ya-Sin is and how it may translate to high level performance as a professional.
The first thing to know is that Ya-Sin was a well-rounded athlete involved in numerous sports in high school. None of them drew more attention in his early high school years than wrestling. Rock won two Georgia state wrestling titles in high school at 145 and 152 pounds. Football was only a tertiary interest for him starting out, and he didn’t even go out for the football team until his junior year.
This late start hurt his prospects leaving high school, as he was only a two-star recruit and had to sign with Presbyterian to get his opportunity to play in college. He played there for three seasons, against much lower levels of competition, and made enough of a name for himself that he earned attention from bigger division one programs.
Fortunately for him, Presbyterian dropped from FCS to Division II and could no longer offer him a scholarship, which provided him with an opportunity to seek the chance to play elsewhere without losing a season of eligibility.
When Ya-Sin arrived in his first season on Temple’s campus, he did so much work to prepare himself for the coming season, in such a short period of time, that he earned a single digit number for his jersey, something only the 9 toughest players on the team are honored with each season. He earned that recognition and respect in a matter of only two or three months, and did so over players who had been with the program three or four years. He is the only player in Temple history to earn that honor in his first season with the program.
Chris Ballard commented in his post-draft press conference that the Colts have a great deal of respect for young athletes who move from a lower level of competition to a higher one. He notes that it takes incredible confidence in oneself to make that move, and I would say that it takes even more toughness and resilience to not just make the change, but to become a difference-maker playing against better athletes, with better coaches, in more powerful conferences.
If that weren’t enough, in his NFL Combine interview with the media, Ya-Sin noted that he has a chip on his shoulder, and that he uses it to keep pushing to make himself better.
On whether he had a chip on his shoulder at the Senior Bowl: “I’ve always had a chip on shoulder from coming out of high school and not being heavily recruited. Going to Presbyterian College, the smallest FCS school in the country with 900 kids. So, I’ve always had a chip on my shoulders and I’m always going to have a chip on my shoulders. That’s just me.”
On how you transfer that onto the field: “I just work harder than everybody. I compete harder than everybody. I have to just go out and be me. I’m going to outwork the competition and try to win.”
On how many hours he puts into the film room for a game: “Throughout the week by myself outside of team activities, at least 12 to 13 hours a week.”
Here is the video of part of the interview.
Here is an interview from the Senior Bowl.
It is incredible to think that Ya-Sin has played football for only six years, spent three years at small school Presbyterian, but worked hard enough and had enough confidence to not only transfer to Temple, but to earn the reputation of being one of the team’s 9 toughest players after being with the group for only a few months. The needle is pointing up considerably on this young athlete, and he has dedicated himself to getting to where he is today.
A guy who refuses to be outworked and who puts in extra time breaking down film is exactly the type of player you want in the Colts locker room.
It is pretty easy to see why Chris Ballard and his scouting team felt so strongly about drafting Ya-Sin — turning down a frenzy of trade offers in the process. It is exciting to see this young man get to work.