Pro Football Focus (PFF) has had a rough go this offseason in terms of Las Vegas Raiders coverage. Several of their publications have lambasted certain aspects of the Silver and Black. The Raiders’ secondary is the biggest example. Be that as it may, they recently made a good point regarding the defense.
As general manager Dave Ziegler continues to mold the roster to fit his and Josh McDaniels’ vision, there have been some surprising moves. Among those roster transactions, the organization decided to part ways with promising cornerback Trayvon Mullen. At one point seen as the future of the Raiders’ secondary, Mullen had an injury-plagued 2021. Be that as it may, his future wasn’t exactly in doubt. The assumption by fans was that once he was back and healthy, Mullen would look to return to his 2019-2020 form. Dismally, that wasn’t meant to be, as this new leadership decided it was better off going in a different direction.
The Las Vegas Raiders reloaded at cornerback but is it truly enough?
The new defensive coordinator, Patrick Graham, is going to maximize the talents of everyone on his defense. Despite the belief that he runs a complex system, the coach dismissed this during the offseason. Rather, he’ll cater to the strengths of each defensive player; his cornerbacks will be no exception. Speaking of that cornerback group, it’s going to look very different heading into Week 1. Nate Hobbs, last year’s rookie revelation, will be playing a bigger role under Graham. The rest of the unit is rounded off by Rock Ya-Sin and Sam Webb, and of note is Amik Robertson, who has struggled mightily in limited action. However, this new coaching staff has strong aspirations for Robertson. Otherwise, why would he still be on the roster?
That leaves Anthony Averett as the other vital player in this group. A 21-game starter for the Baltimore Ravens, Averett is coming off his best individual season and one where he was a full-time starter with 14 games under his belt in 2021. With Mullen replaced as the starter, there will be lofty expectations placed on Averett, fair or not.
Is PFF right about Anthony Averett?
In terms of expectations, Ben Linsey of PFF mentioned that Mullen had previously recorded a 73.9 grade in terms of coverage prior to getting hurt last year. Averett, on the other hand, gave up 739 yards in coverage while playing a bigger role for the Ravens.
“Trayvon Mullen recorded a 73.9 PFF coverage grade across the first three games of the 2021 season before a foot injury derailed his campaign. There was at least some intrigue for him heading into the 2022 season, but the Raiders decided they had seen enough, shipping Mullen to Arizona for a late-round pick. That puts a lot of pressure on Anthony Averett to produce in a full-time starting role. Averett allowed 739 yards into his coverage (sixth most in NFL among cornerbacks) in 2021 in a starting role with Baltimore last season.”
Obviously, Graham and the rest of the Raiders’ brain trust believe that Averett is capable of handling a large role in lieu of Mullen’s exit. The question will be if Averett can deliver or will the pressure of holding one side of the Raiders’ backfield be too much for him? We’ll start to get some answers this Sunday.
*Top Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal