With the preseason getting started in a few weeks, there are still a lot of responsibilities to fill for the club. One of them is the “ace” of the Las Vegas Raiders’ special team’s unit. An underrated position that requires a player to be all over the field. It would be an all-encompassing role, returning punts and kicks as well as tackling and blocking punts. This role needs a wide range of skills, and Isaiah Pola-Mao, a recently undrafted free agent, is one player to think about.
Do the Las Vegas Raiders have someone special in Isaiah Pola-Mao?
Because he is already a free safety, tackling comes naturally to him, as he did plenty of it during his collegiate days at USC. His blistering 4.56 speed (measured during his 40-yard dash on his Pro Day) could also help him do well in this possible new role. This speed, combined with his strength, could make things hard for the other team’s return men. Calling him athletically gifted is an understatement. I mean, he comes from an NFL lineage, so it shouldn’t surprise folks. Pola-Mao had five career interceptions (four in 2019), which showed off his physical gifts. Among those gifts is having a tall, long frame and an imposing stature at six-foot-four.
USC S Isaiah Pola-Mao, the nephew of Troy Polamalu, with an acrobatic INT. pic.twitter.com/KhsiaxppHP
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Considering his natural position on the team is already occupied, a spot on the Raiders’ special teams could be just what he needs. It will provide him with time to transition into the NFL and a fantastic opportunity to impress. One disadvantage of being an ace is that it demands you return punts and kicks, something he did not do in college. Fortunately for him, that is something that can be taught during the course of training camp. However, there are many others who are to going be challenging him for that role.
If he genuinely becomes the team’s “ace,” expect to see one of the team’s UDFAs flourish at the highest level. This will not happen overnight, but consistent practice, determination, and hunger will lead to success on the field.
A golden opportunity is there for Pola-Mao
The fact that his name was not called on draft day will be the ultimate thorn in his side. Getting slighted by every NFL team should give you all the motivation in the world. By simply excelling on special teams and ensuring a roster spot, Pola-Mao would be proving scouts wrong. There’s no doubt that a player with this level of pedigree and potential can find a niche. Both Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler have made it known that competition is going to fuel the Silver and Black moving forward. Well, that’s exactly what Pola-Mao will need to do this year: compete.
*Top Photo: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez