The Las Vegas Raiders made a great move bringing in Casey Hayward Jr. this offseason, and it has been a blessing for Trayvon Mullen.
Since being taken in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the then-Oakland Raiders, Trayvon Mullen has had some incredible expectations placed on him. As a rookie, he showed flashes of a player who could end up being a CB1 at the NFL level, but he had very little talent around him.
During the 2020 NFL Draft, the hope was that first-round pick Damon Arnette would be the guy to come in and start opposite Mullen, giving the Raiders two solid, young cornerbacks for the foreseeable future. However, since being selected out of Ohio State, Arnette has struggled to get his footing at the NFL level and is still only a role player for the Silver and Black.
With Arnette not there yet in terms of being a full-time starter, new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley turned to a familiar face to bolster the cornerback room, bringing in Casey Hayward Jr. A former Pro Bowl player for Bradley with the Chargers, Hayward has been better than advertised for the Las Vegas Raiders, and that has done wonders for the progression of Mullen.
With the talent around him finally, Mullen is learning from Hayward in Year 3, and the Raiders secondary as a whole is better because of it.
Raiders are suddenly solid in the defensive backfield
Bradley has worked wonders with secondaries before, as evident by his work with the Seattle Seahawks and their Legion of Boom defense, as well as his time with the Chargers. Taking over a Raiders defense that was a laughingstock was a daunting task, but he has added personnel he is familiar with in Hayward, Denzel Perryman, and K.J. Wright, and the group as a whole is vastly improved.
In the secondary alone, the Raiders are not only getting great play from Hayward and Mullen but also 2021 fifth-round pick Nate Hobbs, who earned a starting job out of camp. Trevon Moehrig has been solid as a rookie, and former first-round pick, Johnathan Abram is finally letting his play do the talking for him.
Overall, this is a young and talented group, and one that could end up being one of the best in the game before all is said and done.
The Las Vegas Raiders travel to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers in Week 4 on Monday night in their first divisional matchup of 2021.
Monday night will be a huge test for the Raiders, as they take on the Chargers and their star quarterback, Justin Herbert. This is a kid who has dominated the NFL landscape since being selected in the first round in 2020, but against this Raiders secondary, he is going to find it a lot harder to find success in Year 2.