Trayvon Mullen

Outstanding Raiders NFL draft class lays foundation for bright future

Outstanding Raiders NFL draft class lays foundation for bright future

The Raiders' 2014 NFL draft class was stacked. Khalil Mack, Derek Carr, Gabe Jackson, Justin Ellis and even T.J. Carrie became Raiders in a three-day span that changed the Silver and Black's fortunes.

It took time, but that group bonded together and eventually lead a roster rebuild that sent the Raiders to the playoffs with a 12-4 record.

That success was not sustained due to misses in subsequent drafts.

Jon Gruden dismantled then-general manager Reggie McKenzie’s roster, shipped stars off for draft picks and set off on another rebuild that would only work by hitting home runs on draft day.

Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock sent one pick after another over the fence. The 2019 Raiders draft class made a massive impact this season, with huge hits from players regardless of round. They’ve also grown close and believe they’re on a path toward sustained success after a 7-9 campaign reliant on young players filling huge roles.

“I think we have a great foundation here,” fifth-round receiver Hunter Renfrow said. “The rookie class has bonded well over the course of the year. All my years playing football at different levels, we’ve gone through a year with close losses. The next year, we feel like we can get there and we come through with a great year.

"As we transition to Las Vegas, I believe we’re going to do something special.”

The crazy thing: The Raiders draft class was awesome despite depressed returns from its three first-round picks. Josh Jacobs obviously was awesome and should be voted Offensive Rookie of the Year. Clelin Ferrell showed improvement but lacked the wow-factor expected from a top-5 pick. Johnathan Abram was lost for the year in Week 1.

Second-round cornerback Trayvon Mullen and fourth-round defensive end Maxx Crosby were full-time starters. Renfrow ended up the team’s best receiver. Fourth-round tight end Foster Moreau proved a versatile talent and clutch red-zone threat.

Only fourth-round cornerback Isaiah Johnson didn’t play much due to a facial fracture that hindered his progress. Seventh-round edge rusher Quinton Bell didn’t last long, but late picks always are a crapshoot.

This group is high-character and damn good at football, points proven during this season.

“We have a bunch of young guys who are talented, and not just one or two,” Renfrow said. “I think they’re made of the right stuff. … Everyone has played through injuries and everyone has just wanted to win. I think that’s what you have to have -- that grit and determination to be a good team. I’m excited about who we have and the veterans here to carry us alone.”

The Raiders drafted players largely from high-profile, winning programs and they seemed comfortable competing at this level.

“As a team, we really showed that we’re going to be a presence in this league for many years to come,” Ferrell said. “I feel like we showed, through the draft and the guys we brought in, that we’re becoming a strong team. We have something special going here. I’m excited for the offseason and I’m excited for next year.”

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The Raiders need more talent to ascend in 2020. That means Gruden and Mayock have to strike gold again, especially with two first-round picks and three in the third round.

“We have some resources like you say in the draft and we think the Raiders, the Raiders is a great brand for any player to want to play for,” Gruden said. “And we can’t wait to continue building our team and I know Mayock and his group of guys are excited as well.”

How Raiders' Trayvon Mullen rebounded quickly from 'scary situation'

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How Raiders' Trayvon Mullen rebounded quickly from 'scary situation'

ALAMEDA – Trayvon Mullen sat at his locker following Friday’s Raiders practice, poised and ready to play a football game. Never mind that he was strapped to stretcher five days prior, seemingly done for the season.

The Raiders rookie cornerback has bounced back well after taking a shot to the head and neck from teammate Curtis Riley in a 24-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers that sent him to the hospital. He was not diagnosed with a concussion, though he has been dealing with a neck injury and an illness this week.

He has improved to the point that he was taken off the Raiders' injury report Friday and will play a must-win game against the host Denver Broncos on Sunday afternoon.

“It is encouraging to be at this point, especially with how I felt right after it happened,” Mullen said. “I was having neck pains and things I’m not used to having. It was a scary situation, for sure. I’m happy that I have been improving and doing things that has helped me feel better and better.

“... Right away, I let my parents know that I was going to be all right. There are little things here and there since then, but I just continue to get healthy and I feel like I can go out and play.”

That last sentence was spoken with confidence. He feels comfortable starting and competing against the Broncos in a high-stakes affair the Raiders must win to keep slim playoff hopes alive.

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“That’s one of the reasons why I was trying to get healthy and make sure I was in a good spot to where I would be able to play,” Mullen said. “There’s a lot on the line with the position that we’re in. It’s important for me to be out there playing with my teammates. If this is the last game of the season or not, I just want to be out there with those guys. We’ll see where things go from here.”

Getting Mullen back so soon is a huge boon for the Raiders secondary. He keeps getting better with experience, especially since taking over as a full-time starter around midseason. He is tough and physical and never, even afraid of the moment. In other words, he’s a prototypical Raiders cornerback.

“I am taking confidence out there when I play,” Mullen said. “I have been taking good practices onto the field on game days, and that allows me to just play free.”

He was pretty tense and anxious back in the season opener, against Denver no less. He barely played but got torched by then-Bronco Emmanuel Sanders on a deep route, in an odd coincidence, after Gareon Conley got taken off the field in a stretcher. Conley -- now a Houston Texan, he reached out of Mullen after his incident -- was also okay and played the next week.

Mullen believes he has grown exponentially since that opening day.

“Right now, I feel like teams that play me know they’re going to have to bring it,” Mullen said. “At the beginning of the season, playing against Denver, I was fresh out there and maybe too aggressive and doing things out of the ordinary trying to make plays. I feel like I’m a lot better now, using the right techniques in the right situations to play fast and sound. If I do those things, I feel like I’m going to dominate.”

Raiders injury report: Travyon Mullen showing no concussion symptoms

Raiders injury report: Travyon Mullen showing no concussion symptoms

ALAMEDA – Trayvon Mullen was strapped to a stretcher less than a week ago, following a scary situation where teammate Curtis Riley delivered an inadvertent shot to his head. The Raiders cornerback went to the hospital for further examination and has been getting good news ever since.

He was allowed to fly home with the team following a 24-17 victory over the host LA Chargers. The second-round NFL draft pick and full-time starter is in the concussion protocol but doesn’t have a concussion -- once you start the protocol, you have to finish it -- but is dealing with a neck injury and an illness.

“You have to be evaluated any time they ask you or request you to be evaluated,” head coach Jon Gruden said. “When there is an injury of that concern, I think there is a standard protocol that you go through, and I believe he’s passed it with flying colors. Hopefully, he’ll be ready to go.”

Gruden says that last part kept him out of Thursday’s practice, leaving solid odds he can play a must-win game Sunday against the host Denver Broncos.

We’ll know more Friday when the Raiders release their injury report.

That will be a big moment, with plenty of impact players banged up heading into a game with postseason implications. Josh Jacobs missed practice with his lingering shoulder issue, not the Wednesday procedure designed to remove a skin infection.

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Tyrell Williams missed practice with plantar fasciitis that has bothered him all season.

Lamarcus Joyner is missing work with a calf issue suffered against the Chargers. Richie Incognito missed that game with an ankle issue that has kept him sidelined. It’s uncertain if he can go Sunday.

“I would say he’s questionable at the very best for this game, but he’s one of the toughest guys I have met,” Gruden said. “And if there is a way, he’ll play. Right now, he’s not ready yet. Tomorrow will be a big day for the Raiders in terms of who’s up and who’s not.”

Raiders practice report

THURSDAY
Did not practice
OG Richie Incognito (ankle)
OG Gabe Jackson (knee)
RB Josh Jacobs (shoulder/illness)
DB Lamarcus Joyner (calf/quadriceps)
CB Trayvon Mullen (neck/concussion)
WR Tyrell Williams (foot)

Limited practice
C Rodney Hudson (ankle)