The news out of Washington has rarely been positive in recent seasons and with all the turmoil going on there, it was not really all that surprising when they waived recent former second round pick David Amerson; making him the highest drafted player from the 2013 draft (51 overall) to be cut by his original team.
Amerson was part of former head coach Mike Shanahan's final draft with the team. And while Amerson may have been the highest drafted player from that draft to be sent packing by new head coach Jay Gruden, he is by no means the only one. In fact, most of Washington's 2013 draft class is now gone. Just two of seven picks from that class still remain on the squad -- third-rounder Jordan Reed and fifth round running back Chris Thompson.
"You want to build your team within the draft, obviously, but unfortunately, not all of them will hit," Gruden said of Amerson. "Who's to say? He might be a great player somewhere else. His career isn't over by a long shot. He's going to go somewhere else and play, and probably play well. But we felt like it was time to move on from him."
The 6-1, 208-pounder being suddenly available to claim, gave several NFL teams who may have had their eye him a second chance at getting him. Ken Norton Jr, being a coach on the team that featured the Legion of Boom secondary, was one of those coaches.
"We scouted him when he came out, we know who he is," said Norton Jr. "It's just a matter of we really believed in our environment, an environment that we create and what he can become here with us. It's all about us and what we create in our group of people and our environment and we feel that we have the type of environment that we've created to bring the best out of him, not the worst."
If there's any team that traditionally believes in the concept of a change of scenery being the answer, it's the Raiders. Though, in the past decade plus, Oakland has been more likely seen as the place players leave to find success - a distinction Washington now holds.
The dysfunction in Washington begins and ends with owner Dan Snyder. Not the least of which has been his increasingly smarmy machinations in defense of the ‘Redskins' mascot amidst immense pressure to change the name which most Native Americans find offensive.
Making matters worse was the hiring of Jay Gruden, who has looked to put his stamp on the team. The most public of which has been his battle of egos with former second overall pick quarterback Robert Griffin III that ultimately led to Griffin being benched in favor of Kirk Cousins. Now Gruden is bending over backwards to not hold Cousins to the same standards as he did RG3.
You can see how most any player would be pretty excited to escape that mess.
Hard to say how much of an effect it all had on Amerson's play on the field. Last season, in his first at the cornerback spot, his 67 catches given up was fourth among NFL cornerbacks. That being all Gruden saw from Amerson caused him to fall down the depth chart and after just two games this season was let go.
The Raiders, with a great need at the cornerback position, and being fourth in the waiver order, put in a claim on Amerson and were awarded him.
Just a week after his arrival in Oakland, Amerson found himself as a starter. He had a rough first outing, as one might expect, but in two starts since then against the Ravens and Broncos, Amerson has played well, giving up 11 catches on 17 targets (64%) with a pass defended and no touchdowns. His 10.1 yards per catch is 22nd best in the NFL, up from his 13.1 ypc last season which was 72nd in the league.
"Really impressed by his work ethic, by the way he's come in and wanting to win and to understand how we do things," Ken Norton Jr said of Amerson. "It's obvious that he can play ball, it's obvious that he cares, it's obvious that he puts his head in the book and he knows how to transfer what we teach him on the field to the games. As long as you have guys making plays, caring about what they do, continuing to get better, it's going to make us all better."
Amerson is to make his third start this week for the Raiders along with DJ Hayden at the other cornerback spot. Should he continue to play well, the team will have a tough decision to make once Nate Allen returns from partial season IR and TJ Carrie moves back to corner. That can happen as early as week 10 against the Vikings.