The Oakland Raiders‘ defensive backfield was eaten alive by the Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in Week 7. It was clear that there needed to be some changes so the team decided to trade starting cornerback Gareon Conley to the Houston Texans. Considering the Raiders only got a third-round pick out of the deal, they must be very confident in rookie Trayvon Mullen’s potential as a starter.
The second-round pick out of Clemson hasn’t made many big plays just yet, but he’ll get plenty of chances against Deshaun Watson and the Texans. His status as a starter hasn’t been confirmed, but defensive coordinator Paul Guenther seems confident that he’ll be ready.
“I think [Mullen’s] looked great all week,” said Guenther after Thursday’s practice. “He’s been practicing at a high level… once he gets his opportunity, he’s got to make the most of it.”
Offensive coordinator Greg Olson was also able to chime in on Mullen.
“He’s got good length for a corner, certainly great speed,” said Olson. “When we watch the 1-on-1 tapes with our wide receivers, we’ve seen a talented, talented corner.”
Whether he’s lining up across DeAndre Hopkins or Will Fuller, he’s going to have his hands full. If he does get the start, expect the Texans to pick on him quite a bit.
Will the Raiders Add More Secondary Help on the Trade Market?
The Raiders seem happy with Mullen, but if he gets lit up against Houston, the team should consider adding a starter opposite Daryl Worley who has more experience. Oakland missed out on Jalen Ramsey and there definitely won’t be a player of his caliber on the market. However, there are some very talented defensive backs on bad teams that might be interested in making moves. Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals has been to eight straight pro bowls and is still one of the best pass defenders in the game. The Cardinals actually aren’t nearly as bad as last season and are currently 3-3-1. Their problem is that they’re in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. They might not be inclined to give up on a playoff run just yet, but could get a good return for Peterson. At 29 years old, he may be worth a first-round pick from the Raiders.
Josh Norman is another player who is on a really bad team. The Washington Redskins should be going into a full rebuild mode. Norman isn’t going get the same return that Peterson would because he’s 31 and is on a bloated contract. He also hasn’t played as well since he left the Carolina Panthers. That being said, he still has talent and could be worth a third-round pick.
Trumaine Johnson would be interesting as the Raiders wanted him when he was a free agent. However, his contract is way too ugly for Oakland to consider adding him. He’s been one of the biggest free-agent busts in recent memory.
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Isaiah Johnson Could Be Nearing Return
If the Raiders decide to stay put, they could be getting another talented rookie back on the active roster. Fourth-round pick Isaiah Johnson was put on the injured reserve before the season due to a facial injury he suffered in the preseason. He returned to practice last week and he could be put the active roster soon. Head coach Jon Gruden is excited to see him play, which means that he must be coming along nicely. He has a lot of catching up to do before he’s ready for a big roll in the offense, but there’s definitely a youth movement in Oakland’s defensive backfield.