INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts made Temple cornerback Rock Ya-Sin the 34th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft on Friday, and the incoming rookie can’t wait to get to work.
“I love Indianapolis. It’s a great city. I feel like it’s a great organization,” Ya-Sin told reporters following the draft. “The culture there, the players – they’re young players that play hard, competitors. I feel like we are going to win a Super Bowl in the next few years. So I feel like I am coming to a great situation.”
Although he was caught off guard by the Colts calling him up, Ya-Sin did say he met with them at the Combine and also talked to them afterwards.
After beginning his career at Presbyterian College — an FCS program where he started for two out of three years — Ya-Sin then transferred to Temple in 2018 to take on higher competition and prepare for the NFL. A year later, he’s actually joining the NFL.
Ya-Sin answered any concerns about coming from a lower level by becoming arguably Temple’s most disruptive defender. As a full-time starter, he intercepted two passes and broke up 12 others, leading to a First-Team All-AAC selection.
Following the college season was another big test for Ya-Sin at the Senior Bowl. Only a year removed from being an FCS player, he would really be seeing the cream of the crop for a week down in Mobile, Ala. The event proved to be no problem for Ya-Sin, however.
“He was just as tenacious in Mobile this week, regularly going up against Deebo Samuel and more than holding his own against our MVP of Senior Bowl practices,” Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports wrote following the Senior Bowl.
“Scouts have known about Ya-Sin since the late summer, and he quietly continued to make a name for himself until this week, when he burst onto the scene,” Wilson continued. “Now there's talk that he could be a first-round pick, and while Greedy Williams remains the most athletic cornerback in this class, Ya-Sin isn't far behind.”
Ya-Sin also caught the attention of Colts.com' s Andrew Walker, who made this note after watching the first day of practice:
Rock Ya-Sin out of Temple showed the ability to be a very aggressive, physical corner on Tuesday — and in all the good ways. He did get crossed up one time in a one-on-one rep where he lost the receiver, but he otherwise seemed to show solid coverage skills and hustle. He also had a play in which he poked the ball loose and would’ve been credited with a forced fumble in a real game setting. At 6-2, 190 pounds, Ya-Sin finished 14th in the nation in 2018 with 12 passes defensed.
With the Colts, Ya-Sin immediately becomes injected into an already-talented group of cornerbacks featuring Pierre Desir, Kenny Moore II, Quincy Wilson, Nate Hairston and Jalen Collins.
The rookie brings a nice frame (5-11, 192) with good length (77-inch wingspan), and he uses it to be a sticky coverage man who makes life difficult for wide receivers. His speed allows him to keep up downfield, although he doesn’t possess elite speed. His hips also flip easily to change direction and follow receivers on their cuts.
Something that is a requirement for Colts cornerbacks is to be tough and willing to get their noses dirty against the run, and Ya-Sin fits that mold.
What may be Ya-Sin’s best quality, though, is his ball skills and how aggressive he is to get to the ball.
“Rock was outstanding at the Senior Bowl and he was great all year,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard told reporters at the end of Day 2 of the draft. “You watch the University (at) Buffalo game and they got a good quarterback and a good wide out and he played great and he played great at the Senior Bowl and then you stack on his character, his competitiveness, his will to win, it just fit us.
“I kept telling our guys, I said, ‘Look, we move and we pass this guy that we love and we don’t get him, we are going to be regretting it,’” Ballard continued. “So at the end of the day we end up picking a guy we loved.”
Ya-Sin was obviously a player that the Colts really liked and didn’t want to miss out on, and trading back again and potentially being unable to scoop him up was too risky.
When Ya-Sin and the Colts arrive in Westfield, Ind. in late July for training camp, the rookie is expected to raise the competition level in the secondary and give the veterans a run for their money.