It’s been a rough start for the Las Vegas Raiders defense but it’s not all bad news. They’ve got some strong young talent on the team which bodes well for the future. However, some of the young guys obviously have work to do.
Fortunately, there’s been one youngster who has stepped up for the Raiders in a big way. Second-year cornerback Trayvon Mullen has arguably been the team’s best defender and put together a strong performance in Week 3 against the New England Patriots.
The Raiders obviously put a lot of trust into Mullen by giving him the top cornerback spot heading into the season. While he’s still young in his career, teammate Nevin Lawson had some really high praise for his fellow cornerback.
“I feel like he definitely made a leap this year and it was all mental,” Lawson said of Mullen. “I feel like it was always mental for him because he has the physical traits to be one of the best corners in this league. He continued to build his mindset … he’s a very mature young man for his age. He’s very smart. He wants to be great, he pushes himself. I think he’s more hard on himself than anybody else. … I think his roof is limitless and he can be as good as he wants to be.”
ALL the latest Las Vegas Raiders news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Raiders newsletter here!
Mullen Among Best Coverage CBs in 2020
It’s not much of a surprise that Lawson would have high praise for his young teammate but his comments are backed up by facts. According to Pro Football Focus, Mullen has been the sixth-best cornerback in the NFL and also has the best coverage grade:
Mullen has had some bad plays in run support, but we are looking solely at coverage performance here. And he has been a standout player in that facet thus far — particularly in press-man coverage, where his length and physicality come in handy.
On such snaps, Mullen has recorded a 90.8 coverage grade, which leads all cornerbacks. For perspective, the next best sits at 86.9, and then there is only one other corner to produce a grade above 80.0. Mullen has seen five targets when playing press-man and allowed just one to be caught while recording three forced incompletions.
Lawson is right, Mullen has taken a big leap this year. There have only been three games played but the Raiders have almost no pass rush which makes Mullen’s job a lot harder. He’s still got a lot to prove but it’s starting to look like he’s the real deal.
Lawson Will Need to Step up With Damon Arnette Out
The Raiders were hit with some bad news when it was revealed that Damon Arnette is going to miss several games with a thumb injury. The team has yet to add a replacement so it looks like Lawson will take over the starting duties. It’s a job he should be well equipped for.
Lawson started a lot of games for the Detroit Lions before he came to the Raiders. He’s a solid cornerback to have but there’s a reason the team decided to use a first-round pick on a cornerback. Lawson will need to step up in a big way, especially considering the Raiders face four teams in a row that each have really good wide receiver corps.