The Indianapolis Colts have had some very good cornerbacks throughout the course of the franchise’s history.
However, one to four, the Colts current cornerback core of Pierre Desir, Kenny Moore, Quincy Wilson, and recently added rookie 2nd round pick Rock Ya-Sin is the most talented the franchise has ever had.
Sure, there will be growing pains, as it’s very much a ‘green’ group—who are all for the most part, still learning the position. One which is among the toughest positions in the league to play.
Aside from the lone ‘veteran’ of the group, Desir (28), the rest of the Colts cornerback quartet is 23 (Moore), 23 (Ya-Sin), and 22 (Wilson) respectively.
Of course, their immense talent and potential still has to translate to actual on-the-field production next season too.
However, on paper, the quartet’s collective talent and natural ability is undeniable:
He was recently rewarded for his exceptional play in 2018 by receiving a new 3-year, $25 million deal ($12 million guaranteed) from Indianapolis earlier this offseason.
By default, the 6-year pro is the veteran leader of the Colts cornerback group and is coming off a standout season in which he recorded 79 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 8 passes defensed, and an interception in 12 starts.
Per Pro Football Focus (subscription), Desir was their 17th best rated cornerback overall with a +77.7 grade overall. He led all NFL cornerbacks by limiting opposing quarterbacks to a mere 34.0 passer rating on throws targeted 10-19 yards downfield in 2018. Not to mention, Desir was the highest graded tackler on the entire Colts defense last season.
However, perhaps Colts fans will remember him most for locking down Texans All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins this past season with his long arms and physical play:
When defending @PFF’s no. 1 graded WR in 2018, DeAndre Hopkins, #Colts CB Pierre Desir (@pierre_desir) allowed only 6 of 12 targets to be completed, 99 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, and a passer rating of 43.4 ⬇️ https://t.co/PNhfSKoFUR— PFF IND Colts (@PFF_Colts) May 11, 2019
At 5’9”, 190 pounds, the former undrafted free agent from unheralded Valdosta State is no doubt undersized.
However, by utilizing his long arms, physicality, and instincts, Moore plays much bigger on the field for the Colts.
The 2nd-year pro had 77 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 11 passes defensed, and 3 interceptions last season in 15 starts.
Perhaps, the most surprising development from Moore wasn’t just how much he improved from his first to second season, but also his success as a slot cornerback blitzer—as he added another 3.0 sacks in the playoffs—as an ‘X factor’ for Matt Eberflus’ defense.
It’s also worth noting that among all league cornerbacks, Moore had the 6th lowest passer rating allowed in 2018.
Moore has already been counted out by critics for his size, coming from a smaller school, and having gone undrafted.
However, the former New England Patriots castoff and Colts waiver claim has quickly become one of the best young players on their defense—if not the ‘grittiest’.
It’s easy to forget how young Quincy Wilson is, as the 2017 second round pick has already played two seasons for the Colts, but remains younger than new rookie Rock Ya-Sin.
Wilson flashed impressive ball skills as a rookie in 2017, but poor practice habits and perhaps some underlying maturity issues placed him in former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano and his coaching staff’s ‘dog house’—as the young cornerback only appeared in 7 games (*although Wilson also battled a knee injury that hindered his debut season as well).
It looked like there could be carryover in 2018, as the 2nd-year cornerback was fairly underwhelming until around midseason when the Colts picked up veteran safety Mike Mitchell—who Wilson credited for ‘saving his season’.
Suddenly, under Mitchell’s mentorship, Wilson surged during the second half of the 2018 season for the Colts—starting 4 of their last 7 games and becoming solid down the stretch.
Wilson finished the year with 28 tackles, 2 passes defensed, and an interception in 13 games (5 starts).
Simply put, he finished the season really strong for the Colts defense and hopefully his best for the horseshoe is still very much yet to come:
Last, but certainly not least, is the Colts first pick in last month’s NFL Draft, rookie second round pick Rock Ya-Sin.
Despite playing his college football at a small school like Temple, Ya-Sin was regarded as one of the top cornerback prospects in this year’s draft class and was a late riser among many NFL teams’ draft boards.
Ya-Sin had 47 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 12 passes defensed, and 2 interceptions in 12 starts for the Owls defense. In one offseason with Temple, he was also awarded a single digit jersey number, which is only worn by their toughest players (as voted on by the Owls locker room)—an impressive feat to say the least.
At 6’0”, 192 pounds, with a carved physique and 32” arms, Ya-Sin no doubt has impressive physical size and length, but has the fluidity in coverage to go along with it. He also adds competitiveness, swagger, and toughness to the Colts cornerback group.
If Ya-Sin doesn’t see the field much early on in 2019, it might not be as much as an indictment on his talent level, as much as it is the polish of the more seasoned cornerbacks already established on the Colts depth chart.
That being said, Ya-Sin should make a significant impact at some point next season for the Colts defense. He eventually projects to be a long-term starter for Indianapolis’ defense, even if he’s utilized more as their 3rd or 4th cornerback next season.