While the Oakland Raiders‘ first-round draft picks have gotten most of the hype, it’s often forgotten that the team drafted a talented cornerback out of Clemson in the second round. Trayvon Mullen was not only a National Champion in college, but he also never surrendered a touchdown reception. He currently sits squarely behind Gareon Conley, Daryl Worley and LaMarcus Joyner on the depth chart, but he got a chance to see significant action against the Denver Broncos after Conley had to leave the game with an injury scare. Head coach Jon Gruden head a chance to talk about Mullen’s first game.
“He’s got to play better,” Coach Gruden said Tuesday. “He’s had some moments that he struggled, he gambled and lost in a situation I don’t think he should gamble there, but I’m not going to criticize him here today. He’s got to play better, especially if Gareon can’t go, but here is a guy that is a rookie. He missed a lot of time in camp and he does have talent. I expect him to pick it up.”
Mullen wasn’t bad against Denver, but the rookie was definitely picked on. Joe Flacco targeted his direction quite a bit and the former Clemson Tiger gave up his first touchdown reception since before college. Growing pains are to to be expected for any rookie and it won’t take long for Mullen to get acclimated. Conley should be back in week two, so he’ll have more time to develop. One thing is for sure, quarterback Derek Carr has very high hopes for him.
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Trayvon Mullen Reminds Derek Carr of Marcus Peters
While Gruden took a more stern approach when talking about Mullen, Derek Carr was much quicker to praise him.
“You see someone competing like that, it reminds me a lot of Marcus Peters when he was a young guy,” said Carr about Mullen.” Peters, he would give up a play here or a play there, but then he’d change the game with a pick. He’d change the game by seeing something, falling off and picking a ball off. When he’s competing and playing his tail off like that, everyone is high-fiving after that.”
Peters wasn’t as strong in his first year with the Los Angeles Rams, but Raider fans should be very familiar with how good he was while he was with the Chiefs. If Mullen can develop into that kind of talent, he and Conley could be a very formidable tandem for years to come. Mullen also had the chance to talk about Gruden’s comments.
“I talked to [Coach Gruden] today on the field,” said Mullen. “He was telling me just to keep playing hard, he believes in me, he trusts me. Just go ahead and take it, play my game. For me, on that play, I felt like I had it. I felt like I had it, so that’s what made pull the trigger to take that opportunity. It’s a learning experience for me to play it a better way, so even if he catches the ball I can make the tackle.”
As a cornerback, you’re going to win some and lose some. What makes a great cornerback is being able to win a lot more than you lose. It’ll take Mullen some time to get there, but based on how he played at Clemson, he should get there eventually.