Isaiah Pola-Mao was very strong at free safety for the USC football program in 2019 and 2020. He played in every single game (which was a total of 19 games), totaled 113 tackles, picked off five passes, recorded seven PD's, had eight tackles for loss, and recovered three fumbles.
He was set to have a great year, but struggled in his fifth and final year with the program (57 tackles, no picks, 1 PD, one fumble recovery). Still, he entered the 2022 NFL Draft. While it was telling that no NFL General Manager wanted to take a chance on him with a draft pick, the Las Vegas Raiders did sign him onto the team as an undrafted free agent.
While the Raiders do have a decent secondary that allowed 222.9 passing yards per game in 2022 (13th in football), Pola-Mao has the chance to return to the Pola-Mao of old regardless of if he sees the field a lot in Year 1.
He'll be playing behind starting Raiders Free Safety Trevon Moehrig. While Moehrig, who had a promising rookie campaign last year, will easily be the starter over Pola-Mao or anybody on the team, it serves as an opportunity for IPM to learn behind someone who has been there and done that himself as a rookie.
Ex-USC Football Safety Isaiah Pola-Mao has secured a great opportunity to learn behind Moehrig.
A TCU product, Moehrig logged 55 tackles for the Raiders last season while also picking up six PD's in all 17 games. He started all 17. If Isaiah Pola-Mao has the chance to learn behind another young safety who has already made a nice progression to this point himself, he could do a lot worse.
IPM better study Moehrig, who had a top ten PFF pass coverage grade (75.5) last year among safeties with more than 1,000 snaps:
He only surrendered 158 passing yards and just one score on 18 targets. Getting the chance to watch and learn from a quality starter in the NFL is one that not all undrafted free agents get.
At this point, it's up to IPM to go ahead and pick his brain, ask questions, and be a student of the game now that he'll have real NFL coaching. He certainly was poorly coached in college, and now has the chance to grow under a higher level of teachers at the next level.