At this point, everybody is starting to realize how great the Oakland Raiders’ current rookie class is. It seems like every week there’s a rookie that makes big plays. Josh Jacobs was the obvious star of the class for the first several weeks of the season, but now many more are starting to stand out. One player who didn’t have much to do to start the season was cornerback Trayvon Mullen. He was stuck behind Gareon Conley, Daryl Worley and LaMarcus Joyner in the lineup and didn’t see the field very much. Since Conley was traded to Houston, Mullen has been hitting the field as the starter and he’s been very impressive. No, he hasn’t been perfect, but according to Pro Football Focus, Mullen was one of the best defensive players in the NFL this past Sunday.
It’s true that he was playing one of the worst passing offenses in the NFL, but it’s not the first time he’s graded well. It shouldn’t be forgotten that Mullen never gave up a touchdown pass while playing at Clemson and was the defensive MVP for the most recent NCAA National Championship game. Cornerbacks aren’t always able to shut down wide receivers right out of college, so Mullen should be expected to make mistakes. That being said, he’s clearly improving each week. He hasn’t been the most hyped-up rookie of the class, but he’s been an important contributor for the team. He hasn’t proven to be a turnover machine. His game-winning interceptions against the Bengals is a positive sign, though.
The Raiders were obviously comfortable enough with him to trade Conley away. His biggest test will come in Week 13 against the Kansas City Chiefs. If he can put on a strong showing, Oakland may have finally found their cornerback of the future.
Third & Renfrow
Hunter Renfrow may not always light up the stat sheet, but he’s turning into Derek Carr’s most reliable third-down target. According to PFF, Renfrow has been a top-10 wide receiver since Week 6.
He had a slow start to the season and has only caught two touchdowns, but he’s proven to be clutch. It has almost become routine to see the rookie catch a pass that moves the chains on third down. Considering he was a fifth-round pick, the Raiders should be really happy with what they’re getting from Renfrow.
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Maxx Crosby Elite
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody, but Maxx Crosby was graded as “elite” in Week 11. His four sacks against the Cincinnati Bengals was a Raiders rookie record.
It wasn’t the first game that Crosby was impressive in and it shouldn’t be the last. Even though he fell to the fourth round of the draft, he has proven that he should’ve been picked in the first. If Clelin Ferrell could start showing some consistency, the Raiders could have a deadly, young duo at defensive end for years to come.