Exactly two years from the day the Raiders claimed David Amerson off waivers from Washington, the former round two pick returns to the team that sent him packing just two games into his third NFL season.
The former North Carolina State star was having a rough go of it with his original team less than 300 miles from his college campus. The environment in Washington at the time was toxic and continues to be. But Amerson still takes full responsibility for his behavior that ultimately had him the highest drafted player from 2013 to be released up to that point.
“I made a lot of mistakes,” Amerson told Raiders media this week. “I’m not saying it was all on Washington. I made a lot of mistakes, especially my second year. Not doing things the right way, stuff like that. Like I said, it left a bad taste with the coaches. They just couldn’t get past that; once I really tried to come in and lock in, it was kind of already too late.”
Washington head coach Jay Gruden wasn’t with the team when Amerson was drafted. He came onboard in his second season with no attachment to him and with a short leash.
“He was a young player here,” Gruden said Wednesday over conference call. “Did some great things here. He was a good corner at N.C. State. I got here and liked David a lot. We just ran into some things and we thought it was time for a change for him.”
In his second season, Amerson gave up 67 catches which was fourth among NFL cornerbacks. Not what anyone expected. Then after two games the following season, he had taken a tumble on the depth chart and was waived.
“It was a wakeup call for sure,” Amerson said. “And I think once I got here, and my back was kind of against the wall, it definitely opened my eyes up to the preparation that goes into games. You can’t just show up thinking stuff is going to go your way, and it was a growing experience for me.”
Amerson took that wakeup call, becoming an instant starter on the cornerback deprived Raiders, and by season’s end was second in the league with 29 passes defended, earning a long term extension. He followed that up with 18 passes defended in 2016 which was top ten.
“It’s been a great change of scenery for him,” Gruden continued. “I’m glad he’s doing well because I think David is a great kid. Obviously, a very special talented football player. I’m glad he’s doing well.”
Well wishing seems to be the general consensus about Amerson among those in Washington. That goes for the fans as well.
“Significantly, most Redskin fans are thrilled that Amerson is finding success now,” said Bill Horgan of Hogs Haven. “...everyone genuinely hoped that he’d land on his feet. We’re unanimously happy that he did.
“He gets remembered in the Hogs Haven comments section from time to time, but the discussion is never a wistful ‘what might have been’, but a reflective pondering about what made the difference for him. How did he go from a draft bust to a high-level performer in such a short time? Why did it happen?”
From the sounds of it, it was a combination of Amerson’s behavior and the dysfunction in Washington. One of those perfect storms that made him an ideal candidate for a resurgence elsewhere. Luckily for the Raiders, they had a high spot in the waiver order and were able to be the place where he would find his success.
Now he returns to where his NFL career began to face a team which still has a lot of familiar faces for him.
“It’s definitely going to be a little weird,” Amerson continued. “A lot of guys that I was drafted with are still there having successful careers. I’m pretty sure just seeing some of the old training staff, it’s going to be a little weird.”