When the Raiders drafted Trayvon Mullen in the second round, the reaction was not mixed. Fans and media alike rejoiced in hearing his name. The Raiders added first round potential in the second round. More importantly, Mullen’s selection deepened a shallow corner rotation. Now, looking ahead to the preseason, can Mullen win the starting job, pairing with Gareon Conley?
As mentioned, Mullen brings a hardware store full of tools to the field. First, his length and size will not see him overmatched versus much larger receivers. Next, blessed with explosive ability allows Mullen to stay hip-to-hip on vertical patterns. Finally, Mullen does not shy away from contact. In Paul Guenther’s scheme, corners must possess the ability to tackle in space. On top of that, technical tackles matters. Dragging down a receiver will get you benched. Meanwhile, Mullen sharpened this tool and began to drive through the ballcarrier on the boundary.
Daryl Worley will probably serve as Mullen’s main competition for the starting spot. In 2018, Worley gained the faith of the staff. Despite his checkered history and lack of speed, the Raiders stuck with him. What Worley excels at is the physical, pressing style of corner play. At the snap, he will attempt to lay hands on to disrupt a pattern. However, he must excel at this every single time. If a wideout gets free, Worley struggles in closing. Yet, the Raiders thought enough of him to place a second-round tender.
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In the secondary, expect the winner of this battle to see many second receivers. Players like Mike Williams and Stefon Diggs look to test whoever lines up on the other side. If you look at what these two bring to the table, Mullen should start for the Raiders. Against, a big, fast wideout like Williams, Mullen’s length, speed, and ability to track the ball works. In contrast, his twitchy feet will suit him well versus a crisp route runner in Diggs. On the other hand, these two wideouts would give Worley fits.
For the Raiders, the ability to field two potential shutdown corners opens up so many opportunities on defense. With a better pass rush, the secondary cannot help but to look and play better. Mullen fits what the Raiders want to do. Nothing fancy, just harass, and control the opponent.