Trayvon Mullen's confidence grows as he develops on job with Raiders

Trayvon Mullen's confidence grows as he develops on job with Raiders

ALAMEDA -- Trayvon Mullen logged his second professional interception. The Raiders rookie cornerback caught a ball straight from Patrick Mahomes, in the end zone.

Pick. Touchback. Possession claimed. Officials on the field confirmed it.

All turnovers and scoring plays, as we know well by now, are reviewed by eyes in the sky.

Those watching saw Mullen commit pass interference. It doesn’t matter that wasn’t called on the field, or that PI judgments are rarely overturned upon review, even after a specific coach’s challenge.

Mullen got flagged by 345 Park Ave. Believe it or not, true freaking story.

“We had an interception we thought we did intercept that was turned over by the Wizard of Oz or somebody,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said after a 40-9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs “I don’t know what happened on that. That was a big play in the game no doubt.”

The Chiefs took possession at three yards from paydirt and scored on the next play. That play didn’t cost Mullen’s Raiders a game. The result had been decided long before. While a call went against him, the second-round draft pick didn’t let the outcome erase the athletic play originally made.

“My goal is to make those types of plays. I didn’t let the call get to me,” Mullen said after the game. “I believe I’m a great player continuing to get better. I’m going to keep being aggressive and working to make big plays.”

That’s the right attitude for a young player developing on the job, someone tasked to both help his team win now while individually developing for a better future. That two-pronged attack has been asked from all contributing Raiders rookies.

Mullen ranks among them, given a starting job after Gareon Conley was traded to Houston near midseason. The Silver and Black need him to play well and progress, understanding full well that athletic plays and mistakes will be made.

In Mullen’s case, late in the fourth quarter, both happened on the same play.

“I can live with that call, because I know that I’m going to continue making plays and continue to get better,” Mullen said. “When plays present themselves, I’m going to work hard trying to make them.”

What was Mullen thinking after that review went against him?

“That I’m going to have to go back on the field,” Mullen said, “And make another big play.”

The Raiders are seeing good things from their confident young cornerback, who is immensely talented but can be prone to aggressive mistakes that should tone become less prevalent with experience.

[RELATED: Review-Journal: Should Raiders move on from Derek Carr?]

The Clemson product was targeted nine times by the Chiefs -- rookie initiation’s in full swing –but gave up just three catches for 33 yards. He had two nice pass breakups, though the pass interference call will be held against his final line.

“He’s getting better,” Gruden said. “He had some really good plays [Sunday]. He was obviously flagged a few times for penalties. One of them, I can’t quite say where it came from, but it was a big reversal in the game. He made a couple great plays against a great receiver and I think he’s getting confidence. I think he’s getting better. I think he performed better and he’s performing better and better each week.”

Raiders’ Senior Bowl experience was vital to excellent 2019 NFL draft

Raiders’ Senior Bowl experience was vital to excellent 2019 NFL draft

The Raiders took their entire football operation down south this time last year to coach the Senior Bowl’s North squad.

That’s a luxury afforded to terrible teams from the NFL season that just concluded, and the 4-12 Raiders certainly were one. The provided an up-close look at some of the NFL draft’s finest prospects available throughout the selection process.

The Raiders got to see how players work in practice and pay attention in meetings, with an opportunity to swap squads – the 49ers coached the South – on the practice week’s final day.

Head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock got a great evaluation of every Senior Bowl prospect.

That week in Mobile, Ala., turned out to be an information gold mine. They learned to love a lot of those prospects and capitalized on opportunities to acquire them in the NFL draft or shortly after.

The Raiders drafted four Senior Bowl participants and signed three more after the amateur selection process.

“Coaching and being there really helped us a lot,” general manager Mike Mayock said after the NFL draft. “It really is a big deal to be involved in that game.”

The Raiders certainly hope this Senior Bowl week bears fruit, albeit with a lot less access to the prospects. They’ll send a slightly smaller contingent to this important evaluation week, though the Silver and Black still will canvas this group from stands over the sidelines. Practices start Tuesday, beginning a three-day stretch that’s more important than the All-Star Game itself.

Last year’s close-up look ended up putting several participants in silver and black.

The Raiders got Mississippi State safety Johnathan Abram in the first round, LSU tight end Foster Moreau and Houston cornerback Isaiah Johnson in the fourth and Clemson receiver Hunter Renfrow in the fifth. Then, they signed Wisconsin fullback Alec Ingold, Notre Dame linebacker Te’von Coney and UC Davis receiver Keelan Doss as undrafted free agents.

Everyone save Coney spent most of the year on the 53-man roster and many of them made a major impact on the 2019 Raiders.

Those guys should be an even greater part of the 2020 squad, with Abram expected to rejoin the starting lineup after he underwent season-ending shoulder after Week 1, and optimism is high after what was essentially a lost season for Johnson after he suffered a preseason facial fracture.

Renfrow developed into a major player, and even Ingold became a reliable blocker and short-yardage back. Moreau was a touchdown machine in his first season, forming a promising tight-end duo with breakout star Darren Waller.

The Raiders preferred Senior Bowl participants last year, and this practice week is something vital to pre-NFL draft evaluation. The Raiders have five selections in the top 92, broken down into two first-round picks and three more in the third down.

[RELATED: Raiders' Gruden, Mayock at East-West Shrine Bowl practice]

Last year the Raiders favored players from either championship college programs or Senior Bowl participants, with rare exceptions. There’s no telling if that’ll be the case again this year, but Senior Bowl game and practice film is a vital piece of the evaluation process.

“Everybody will tell you they look at the Senior Bowl practice tape, the Senior Bowl game film over and over and over,” Gruden said last year. “You watch the matchups over and over and over.

“I remember doing it with [late Raiders owner/GM Al Davis]. He would put the Senior Bowl on for the 44th time and I would say, ‘how many more times are we going to watch that game?’ There’s tremendous value in it. It’s a great tool and provides great matchups you would never see if you didn’t come here.”

Tom Brady says he's 'open-minded' about uncertain future with Patriots

Tom Brady says he's 'open-minded' about uncertain future with Patriots

When you think about the New England Patriots, you don't see Steve Grogan, you picture Tom Brady. Aside from six Super Bowl rings for Brady and a trophy case full of accolades and records, there could be one big difference between the two quarterbacks. 

Grogan was a late-round draft pick who spent his entire 16-year career as a Patriots QB. Brady famously was a late-round draft pick who has spent his entire 20-year career as a Pats QB. But that could change. 

With rumors swirling that Brady might move on from New England this offseason, the 42-year-old addressed his future in his weekly interview with Westwood One Sports Radio on Sunday. 

"It's only been a couple weeks and I've had a lot of time with my family the last couple weeks and just been decompressing from the season," Brady said. "I've said earlier I'm open-minded about the process, and at the same time I love playing football and I want to continue to play and do a great job. I'm looking forward to what's ahead.

"Whatever the future may bring, I'll embrace it with open arms."

Brady is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career on March 18. The Athletic's Jay Glazer recently called the Raiders going after Brady with their move to Las Vegas a "no-brainer." And Brady was spotted in Sin City on Saturday night talking to none other than Raiders owner Mark Davis at UFC 246. 

The Las Vegas Review-Journal's Adam Hill spoke with UFC president Dana White -- who's a friend of Brady -- Saturday night after the fights, and White said a Raiders-Brady pairing absolutely "has legs." 

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is set to make $18.9 million next season, but the Raiders would save $16.5 million and take a cap hit of just $5 million if they trade or release Carr prior to June 1. 

[RELATED: Brady offers Jimmy G advice before NFC Championship Game]

Brady wouldn't come cheap, even at his age, though he certainly would create an insane amount of buzz and sell boatloads of tickets in the Silver and Black's first season in Las Vegas. Raider fans might also finally have reason to forget about the Tuck Rule, 18 years after the fact. 

Buckle up, things could get interesting. This is Las Vegas, after all.