In a recent interview, Raiders general manager Mike Mayock admitted the Raiders defense did not have any dynamic players this past season. However, cornerback Trayvon Mullen can be that player under the right circumstances.
That dynamic defender may already be on the roster
Mayock said on Eddie Paskal’s Upon Further Review podcast that “The way we look at it, or at least the way I look at it, is last year we did not have a dynamic playmaker at any level.”
Mayock’s frustration with the lack of talent on the roster is understandable. After all, players like Clelin Ferrell have failed to develop. However, it’s clear he is tired of the same excuses and wants to see results on the field right away. Now that Gus Bradley is their new defensive coordinator, there are going to be a lot of question marks around that Raiders defense, especially in their secondary.
The Raiders’ defense ranked 30th in points allowed in 2020. Cornerback Damon Arnette had one of Pro Football Focus’s lowest grades. Meanwhile, Johnathan Abram was also the lowest-graded safety and was a liability in coverage. Although Trayvon Mullen still has leaps and bounds to go, he can very well be the guy who can be that dynamic player Mayock is looking for on the defensive side of the football.
What do the Raiders have in Trayvon Mullen?
Mullen had a slow start in his rookie year. Nevertheless, this is the kind of growing pains first-year players go through. He started to settle nicely and grew comfortable in his surroundings. At one point in his second year, he had a 90.8 Pro Football Focus coverage grade, the highest for a cornerback last season.
The one downside with Mullen is his inconsistency. One week, he can hold Demarcus Robinson to 22 yards on eight targets against the Kansas City Chiefs. He can also keep Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley in check and give up 22 yards on ten targets. On the other hand, he can allow 116 yards on six targets against Jerry Jeudy.
Injuries have played a factor
You also have to take injuries into account. Mullen suffered a hamstring injury suffered in Week 8. Later in the season finale, he sustained a shoulder injury. The Clemson product has proven he is a tough player, playing through these injuries and dealing with an illness in the middle of the season.
Mullen hasn’t been the only Raider on defense that has missed time with injuries. Abram and Arnette also had issues staying on the field as well. This put a lot more pressure on ’27’ to carry the load, which can turn him into an excellent leader and have him learn more and adapt much quicker.
The former Tigers cornerback has wasted no time since entering the league, He has done a great job considering the issues the Raiders have had on defense. The talent is there, this is no question about that.
Mike Mayock is absolutely correct when he says he wants to see results right away. Making his frustrations public could have a positive effect and leave some chips on some players’ shoulders. Mullen will have to become the leader in the secondary and if he can show that these flashes are no fluke, the Raiders could have a dynamic player in the lineup.
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