Cornerback #1: Trayvon Mullen
It’s definitely time for the Houston Texans to dip back into the old Clemson well once again to scoop up some additional talent. With Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, D.J. Reader and Carlos Watkins all being Clemson alumni, why not add another talent to the defense like Trayvon Mullen?
Every pick the Houston Texans have had as of late from Clemson has had some degree of success and although Watkins isn’t an every-down player, his production has still been notable and he’s a valuable piece to the roster.
There’s a good chance that the 6-foot-1, 199-pound cornerback with 31-inch arms and 9.13-inch hands will be available when the Houston Texans start picking in the second round and I think he’d be able to make an extremely elongated impact with this team if he were selected.
Clemson players are typically NFL-ready and I expect nothing but the same for Mullen plus he’s a crowned champion, being on last season’s trophy-winning team under Dabo Swinney. Mullen will nix his senior season with Clemson and head to the NFL early. By the way, he posted a 4.46 40-yard dash run at the NFL Combine. He was also named to the All-ACC second-team this past season.
He was a four-star recruit out of South Florida’s Coconut Creek High School to which he starred as a cornerback and a wide receiver, further emanating his versatility to which I’m sure the Houston Texans are drooling over. He’s also related to Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson, to which he’s his cousin.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Mullen had a solid 78.0 grade out of 709 snaps in 2018.
PFF had him ranked 4th in tackling efficiency, 13th in cover snaps per target (9.05), 15th in yards per cover snap (0.65) and 18th in cover snaps per reception (16.86). This certainly indicates that nothing much gets past him and when it does, it’s for minute gains.
The guys at PFF say that he’s slightly above-average in coverage, terrific in run defense, passer rating allowed but lacks the ability to make plays. Whether or not that can be coached remains to be seen but I think it can be when he ascends to the next level. Quarterbacks had a 71.2 passer rating when targeting Mullen.
But you don’t have to take my word for it, here’s what the experts had to say:
"“Long press-corner who can clog up the release but is more reactive than instinctive in coverage. Mullen can be a little inconsistent in anticipating route breaks, which can open small throwing windows, but his loose hips and response burst helps him latch back onto tight coverage. If Mullen can improve pattern recognition and reading the quarterback, the ball production should follow. He has Day 2 draft talent as an outside corner and could compete for a CB2 spot within a couple of years.”"
"“Mullen has NFL size, speed and scheme versatility, which will likely get him drafted in the first two rounds of a rough cornerback class. He’s twitched up and has moments of brilliance in press man, but inconsistency still rears its ugly head and a lot of his transitions are not what they should be due to below-average footwork. Mullen didn’t give up big plays all season long and plays the run well while being a reliable tackler, all staples of a Brett Venables starting cornerback. He played in a complex, scheme-diverse system at Clemson, which will help in his transition to the NFL even if he wasn’t the quickest or cleanest processor in pattern-matching or zone coverage situations this past season. Mullen projects best as an outside corner who is best suited as a no. 2 for press man teams, but he isn’t a finished product and could be reliant on coaching/development to reach his ceiling in the NFL.”"
Zierlein has already compared Mullen to that of one Kevin Johnson, an experiment, as you know, that badly derailed here in Houston. However, I think the Houston Texans could fare differently considering the level of success that he had at Clemson in his final season. I think that the Houston Texans should take a flyer on this guy.
Mullen finished 2018 with 29 tackles (one missed), zero interceptions, two passes defended and 12 run stops through 41 targets with the Tigers. Receivers had a 53.7 percent catch percentage when Mullen was in their path.