There is something special about Isaiah Pola-Mao bringing a distinctive physicality to the Las Vegas Raiders secondary with his impressive stature. Standing at an imposing 6-foot-4 and weighing 211 pounds, the undrafted free agent safety possesses the ideal combination of size and strength to excel both in the box and near the line of scrimmage. On paper, The former co-captain of the 2021 and 2020 usc team is a rare breed of athlete who also boasts the speed and coverage skills to defend in the RamHis pro-comp size-wise is Derwin James of the Los Angeles Chargers but Pao-mao has an even bigger comparison to live up to.
Casting a Hall Of Fame Shadow?
Pola-Mao is the nephew of Pro Football Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu. But Pola-Mao has seemingly embraced and taken on the challenge of living up to the standards set by his Hall of Fame uncle. While it is important for him to try and uphold the Polamalu legacy, it is not the immediate driving force behind the goal of a new NFL career.
Pola-Mao’s stint with the Las Vegas team was marked by an on-and-off presence on their active roster, and was even waived towards the end of September, nearly a month after successfully securing a spot in the final 53-man roster following training camp. However, he did not remain in free agency for long and was promptly stashed away on to their practice squad within a couple of days. A month later in November, Pola-Mao was promoted to the active roster following the release of safety Johnathan Abram.
2022 Season By The Numbers
After proving his worth on special teams during Weeks 2, 3, and 10, he finally got his chance to shine on defense in Week 11 when he made his debut against the Denver Broncos.
Pola-Mao finished with four tackles in only eight defensive plays, But Two weeks later, Pola-Mao had 13 defensive snaps, racking up five combined tackles, a tackle for a loss, and two quarterback hits against the Los Angeles Chargers.
The following week against the Los Angeles Rams, Pola-Mao took part in a season-high 21 plays on defense and ended up with four combined tackles.
In total, the safety finished with 20 combined tackles, two tackles for losses, two quarterback hits, and a sack in the 11 games he played in his rookie campaign.
Pola-Mao’s ability to make an impact on limited snaps is a testament to his athleticism and football IQ. He showed a nose for making plays in the backfield and was effective as a Blitzer, he racked up two quarterback hits and a sack.
The Patrick Graham Effect
With his ability to play in coverage against tight ends being able the physically match up is a key reason I’m looking for pola-mao to make a impact. Pola-Mao has the potential to be a versatile and valuable player for the Raiders. His experience as a special teams contributor also adds to his value and could help him earn playing time early in his career. Also, keep in mind the Patrick Graham effect
Patrick Graham says he doesn’t have a base defense he’s referred to his scheme as multiple,but he apparently shows some noticeable tendencies . Over his term as an assistant, Graham has mostly run the base 3-4 allowing himself to use outside linebackers as both coverage players and pass rushers. Graham often uses safeties to fulfill the role of essentially a sub-package linebacker.
While Graham was with the G-men he had safety hybrid Jabrill Peppers, who actually took more reps in the box then starting linebacker Tae Crowder, 383 to 292 Pao-mao a former college safety who maybe switched to Sub package linebacker, and could fill a similar role as Peppers did All of the big-ticket free-agent linebackers this offseason are off the market at this point, so maybe the Raiders subsidize the position group with a player like pao map.
There is a belief among Raider Nation that Marcus Epps will take on the box safety position sub-linebacker position previously held by Peppers, but in reality, Epps’ experience lies in being a free safety. Throughout his career, Epps has accumulated a total of 1,353 snaps as a free safety, while his time in the box is limited to just 443 snaps.
Pola-Mao’s size, athleticism, and football IQ give him the potential to be an impact player in the NFL. With continued development and opportunity, he could become a key contributor for the Raiders defense and special teams units. I see Pola-mao Evolution from a fringe roster player to a high-impact starter this year.