What a disaster the Raiders secondary was early last season. Most of the snaps in the secondary the first three weeks were some combination of DJ Hayden, TJ Carrie, Neiko Thorpe, Taylor Mays and Charles Woodson. They were desperate for help. So, when former second round pick David Amerson was waived by Washington, the Raiders pounced, and after one week coming off the bench, the castoff was in the starting lineup.
By midseason it was clear that Amerson was a Godsend, which led many to wonder why in the world Washington would let him go. Simply put, he was one of the worst cornerbacks in the NFL.
In 2014, his second in the NFL, he was rated as THE worst cornerback in the NFL by Pro Football Focus after he gave up 61 completions on 91 targets (67%), with a league high 10 touchdowns surrendered. By the start of 2015, he had been benched and after two games was cut loose.
His emergence in Oakland was further proof that sometimes a team change is just what a player needs. The old adage ‘One man's trash is another man's treasure' comes to mind.
After putting up such poor numbers his first two season plus in Washington, he would be tested a lot in Oakland.
Even with a shaky secondary around him in Oakland, he finished as the sixth most targeted cornerback in the NFL with 104 targets. This time with those targets he gave up fewer completions (58) and cut the opposing QB passer rating more than in half; down from an insane 140.2 in 2014 to an impressive 62.7 in 2015.
Amerson also picked off 4 passes and his 29 passes defended was second most in the league.
The only man to have more passes defended was Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters (34) who also led the NFL with 8 interceptions and took home Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Why is this significant? Because the man who locked down his receiver to force opposing quarterbacks to choose to throw to Peters was Sean Smith who is now lining up opposite David Amerson in Oakland.
To draw obvious parallels, you take a player like Amerson who was already receiving considerable targets as the best corner in a weak secondary and add a player of Smith's caliber who quarterbacks stayed away from in favor of throwing 137 passes to the eventual DROY, and you have the perfect recipe for Amerson seeing a lot of balls thrown his way.
Like Peters, this also means many more opportunities for Amerson to make plays. He will have a tough task ahead of him, but If his performance last season is any indication, his 29 passes defended and 4 interceptions may only be a start.