The Indianapolis Colts have two ascending young cornerbacks: Rock Ya-Sin and Isaiah Rodgers, who continue to help solidify the team’s secondary—for what’s been one of the league’s best defenses overall in 2021 (4th overall in weighted DVOA).
As a 2019 2nd round pick, Ya-Sin hit a surprising wall in his second NFL season last year—after a strong stretch to finish his rookie campaign with the Colts.
However, Ya-Sin has taken another step forward again in his 3rd season, as he’s eliminated the unnecessary grabbiness from his repertoire and is trusting that he’s in position to make plays in coverage (which he predominantly is these days):
Rock Ya-Sin said the biggest difference for him this year is that he's not worried about getting beat. Has always been in the right position, but some of the penalties in the past came from panic (my word, not his) with the ball in the air. #Colts— George Bremer (@gmbremer) November 17, 2021
Per PFF (subscription), during 2021, Ya-Sin is their 26th best graded cornerback with a +70.7 overall grade—featuring a +73.4 coverage grade.
During his past 4 games, Ya-Sin has been targeted just 12 times in 123 total coverage snaps for 5 receptions (41.6% reception rate), 36 receptions yards (7.2 ypr. avg.), 4 pass breakups, and 0 touchdowns surrendered.
Meanwhile, 2nd-year cornerback Isaiah Rodgers, as a former 2020 6th round pick, has assumed a larger role in the wake of veteran starter Xavier Rhodes battling through a number of injuries so far this season.
At a listed 5’10”, 176 pounds, Rodgers was projected to be more of a nickel/special teams returnman coming out of UMass, but he’s really flashed at outside cornerback so far this season—showcasing his excellent speed, tracking, and ball skills in coverage.
In 2021, Rodgers is currently PFF’s 20th best graded cornerback with a +70.7 overall grade—highlighted by a +75.1 coverage grade.
In his sophomore season, during 328 total coverage snaps, Rodgers has been targeted 55 times for 34 receptions (61.8% reception rate), 367 receiving yards, 3 pass breakups, 2 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, and an allowed passer rating of 70.8.
The Colts’ rising young duo at cornerback is a bit reminiscent of the franchise’s 2006 Super Bowl Champion starting tandem of Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden at cornerback, who made things awfully tough along the outside—en route to hoisting a Lombardi Trophy.
If they have their way, the Colts will be hoping for their own deep playoff run—and the exceptional play of Ya-Sin and Rodgers would presumably be among the key reasons why.