The Las Vegas Raiders made a number of excellent moves in the undrafted ranks towards the end of the 2022 NFL Draft. From adding depth at all positions of need, as well as some who could make the 53-man roster, one player stands out because he brings energy and a strong effort to the field. That player is USC safety Isaiah Pola-Mao. A senior with the potential to make an impression not only on the Raiders’ coaches but also on Raider Nation as a whole.
Who is the Raiders’ newest safety?
Pola, a surname Football fans will recognize Mao’s name because he is the nephew of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Troy Polamalu and the Raiders’ current running backs coach, Kennedy Polamalu. He was six-foot-four and weighed 205 pounds. He had 109 solo tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, and eight pass deflections during four seasons at USC from 2018-2021. It should also be noted that Pola-Mao was fourth in the Pac-12 with five of those pass deflections coming in during 2020. The year prior, Pola-Mao was ranked first in the entire conference with four interceptions.
He’s shown flashes of his uncle’s hard-hitting play style, and it’d be great to see it at the pro level. He may be stepping into some big shoes, but I’m confident he’s up for the challenge.
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Will Pola-Mao make the team?
Pola-Mao has the skills to compete for depth at the safety position in camp. And as a fifth-year senior and 24-year-old, he demonstrates maturity and a sense of leadership. This could be extremely beneficial to him, especially when preseason begins, and all eyes are on him. This Raiders organization is stressing the importance of competition, so Pola-Mao’s traits will surely help him in that regard.
Isaiah Palo-Mao (#21) from USC is impressing me as a run defender and here's a perfect example as to why. Quick, decisive read here on the play and he has a big tackle for a loss. #BlueChipSummer pic.twitter.com/YS6Ixc0ABz
— Nick Price (@PriceCheck3) August 17, 2021
Because he was undrafted, that could be the biggest chip on his shoulder. It would give him even more motivation to show what the whole NFL missed out on. If he works as hard as he did at USC, don’t be surprised if he appears in a game this season and becomes a fan favorite. It would be something special to see the next generation of Polamalu talent in the league. Seeing it in Silver and Black might make it that much more special.
*Top Photo: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez