David Amerson has come a long way, and not just geographically.
The cornerback was cut by Washington early in the 2015 season and signed by Oakland to help a cornerback corps that was under fire. Though he had played his way out of a job in the Eastern Time Zone, Amerson thrived out west, becoming Oakland’s top cornerback by the end of the season.
The analytics website Pro Football Focus put an exclamation point on general manager Reggie McKenzie’s reclamation project by this week selecting Amerson as its most improved player in the NFL this past season.
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In selecting Amerson, Pro Football Focus noted that the former North Carolina State second-round pick had a horrible 2014 season, grading out as No. 106 among all NFL corners, before being cut after Week 1 of 2015.
PFF’s Chris Phillips noted that Amerson was targeted 104 times in 2015 and allowed just 58 completions and one touchdown. He had 13 passes defensed, tied for No. 5 in the league, and four interceptions.
“Last season, he allowed more completions (61) on fewer targets (91) and an NFL-high 10 touchdowns when targeted,” wrote Phillips. “Quarterbacks had a 140.2 rating when targeting Amerson in 2014. This season, that number dropped to 62.7. His improvements have brought him up to an 83.4 overall grade, good for 15th out of all cornerbacks this season.”
Amerson said he used his departure from Washington as motivation. When he came to the Raiders, he had something to prove. Now, he goes into 2016 as the Raiders’ top cornerback.
Said Amerson: “I had to be mentally strong.”
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was chosen by Pro Football Focus as the No. 3 runner-up to Amerson as most improved player.