Raider Rookie CB Trayvon Mullen Can Patrol Secondary Right Away

With the 40th pick in the NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders selected cornerback Trayvon Mullen from Clemson. Below is a look at what Mullen brings to the table.

Raiders Rookie CB Trayvon Mullen Can Patrol Secondary Right Away

After trading back twice, the Raiders finally made their second round pick and selected Clemson cornerback Trayvon Mullen. The National Championship was clearly an important game to Oakland’s general manager Mike Mayock as Mullen became the third player drafted by the Raiders who participated in the game. It’s clear that head coach Jon Gruden and Mayock were looking to select winners. 

At the time of the pick, there were bigger names on the board, but Gruden, who is notorious for liking corners who can tackle and provide support against the run, ultimately got his kind of guy. Oakland needed help at cornerback and Mullen could be exactly what they are looking for.

Stats from Sports Reference:

Year Tackles for Loss Interceptions Passes Defended
2016 0.5 0 1
2017 0 3 3
2018 4 1 3
Career 4.5 4 7

His tackles for loss in 2018 exemplify Mullen’s effectiveness as a run defender. While four TFLs may not seem like much, it is an impressive feat for a corner. Mullen needs to improve on his ball skills and that should lead to more interceptions and passes defended, both of which were slightly underwhelming. 

Fit for the Raiders

Entering the draft, the Raiders had a big need at cornerback and Mullen can fill that need because he’s a great scheme fit. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther likes to run zone coverage and Mullen played a lot of zone at Clemson. His familiarity and abilities in zone coverage are likely a large reason why Oakland opted to draft Mullen over bigger names such as fellow draftee Greedy Williams. Heading into the season, Gareon Conley and Daryl Worley project to be the Raiders’ starting cornerbacks. However, neither of the two can be considered locks to start.  While Mullen may not walk in the door as a starter, he certainly can become one by start of or midway through the season. 

Raider Ramble Report

As mentioned above, Gruden likes cornerbacks who can tackle and this draft pick has his fingerprints all over it. Mullen is a good tackler, shows the ability to blitz effectively and provides support against the run.  While he may not be a heavy hitter, he wraps up ball carrier’s legs and doesn’t miss many tackles. In coverage, he breaks on routes well and is a smart player. He anticipates receiver routes and doesn’t get fooled by play action or trick plays. Against more physical receivers, he might get pushed around, but Mullen is able to stay with the them and maintain good coverage.  t’s almost as if he were a boxer with a good chin that could take a hit and keep fighting.

Mullen’s biggest area for improvement is in press coverage. If he does not get a clean jam on the receiver when pressing, he will start to lean and hang on the receiver leading to pass interference penalties or getting caught out of position. Mullen has a similar issue in cloud coverage or cover two. He can fix this by doing two things: Keeping his feet moving and trusting his speed. If he is able to get his hands on the receiver and keep his feet moving, he will be able to stay with the receiver with little to no problems.

Also, he needs to trust himself and his speed. Running a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at the combine shows that he has speed to recover in coverage, but when he gets beat, he doesn’t trust this speed and starts grabbing the receiver to over compensate. At the end of the day, Mullen has the abilities to become a very valuable player for the Raiders in 2019 and beyond. 

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