One of the bright spots for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2019 was then-rookie cornerback, Trayvon Mullen. While it was a positive development, can the second-year corner show he’s a top 15 corner?
The Silver and Black haven’t had a true star at cornerback since Nnamdi Asomugha but it seems that has changed. Mullen, a second-round pick at last year’s NFL Draft, fought up the depth chart and by season’s end had shown noteworthy upside. Though he only started ten games in his rookie year, Mullen showed he was capable of handling one side of the field for the Raiders. Going into the 2020 season, the starter job is Mullen’s to lose, though that’s highly unlikely.
The question is whether Mullen can make the jump from promising prospect to bonafide elite in his sophomore campaign. In 2019, Mullen’s grades with Pro Football Focus were certainly auspicious, his coverage grade stood at 61.4 by season’s end. By the same token, the former Clemson Tiger had a 77.9 run defense grade last year. Even more impressive is that Mullen only gave up a 55.9 completion percentage to opposing quarterbacks and only two touchdowns. So what exactly does Mullen need to do to crack PFF’s Top 15?
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Can The Raiders CB Make PFF’s Exclusive List After 2020?
Solomon Wilcots of PFF had ranked the NFL’s top 25 cornerbacks through 17 weeks of the regular season football back in January. Everyone knows that PFF’s grades aren’t the end all be all for football, however, they are a good barometer for individual players. As far as Mullen’s concerned, to crack the top 15, he’d have to outperform two cornerbacks, Tre’Davious White and Adoree’ Jackson.
When it comes to Jackson, Wilcots elaborated on his ability to force incompletions and the fact he allowed only one touchdown reception.
“He has the speed to stay in the receiver’s hip pocket while in man-to-man coverage, and this year, he recorded the NFL’s 12th-best forced incompletion percentage (17.4%) while allowing only one touchdown pass all season.”
Jackson’s completion percentage was 66.7 last year so Mullen is right there with him. White, whom PFF ranked 16th, was very impressive in 2019 as Wilcots points out.
“White was targeted 84 times through Week 17, but he allowed just 47 receptions for 552 yards and 28 first downs, good for a passer rating of only 46.3.”
Mullen was targeted 68 times and allowed 38 completions, surrendering 447 yards for his part. White’s grades are still above Mullen, as he graded at 76.0 in coverage and 76.4 overall for 2019. Jackson is right behind White in terms of coverage grade as well, he had a 75.2 grade. There’s no question Mullen has the potential to catch up to these two excellent corners. Can he do it this soon? That’s a tough question, one thing’s for sure though, Mullen has Raider Nation’s attention and their prayers that he’s the next great Raiders cornerback.
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*Top Photo: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports