ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — At the national championship game nearly four months ago, Oakland Raiders general manager Mike Mayock said he was told by an NFL scout that if he did nothing but draft players from Alabama and Clemson he’d get a passing grade in his first year on the job.
Mayock apparently took the message to heart.
The Raiders drafted Clemson cornerback Trayvon Mullen with the 40th overall pick Friday after twice trading back in the second round in deals with Jacksonville and Buffalo.
Mullen was the third player from the national championship game taken by Mayock in the first two days of the draft. Oakland used two of its three first-round picks on Mullen’s Clemson teammate, defensive end Clelin Ferrell, and Alabama running back Josh Jacobs.
“Being on the field before the game was just like, ‘Wow,'” Mayock said. “I said to somebody, ‘Man I’d take five of these guys and go home right now.’ And here we are. We got three of them, so it’s exciting. It really is.”
Mullen visited the Raiders prior to the draft and likes the idea of being reunited with Ferrell and playing with Jacobs and safety Johnathan Abram, Oakland’s third pick in Thursday’s first round.
“This is awesome, man, being able to get back with my boy,” Mullen. “We have to get to work. They’re going to get a great player, especially with me and Clelin and even John Abram, because that’s like my best friend. Us guys getting together, it’s going to be awesome.”
Mullen was a second-team All-ACC pick during his junior year with the Tigers. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Mullen has not allowed a touchdown in coverage since 2017, according to Pro Football Focus, and he surrendered fewer than 300 yards passing in his college career.
As luck had it, Mullen had one of his best games with Mayock watching. Mullen was the defensive MVP in the national championship game after tallying six tackles with a sack, interception and forced fumble.
“I think it did a lot,” Mullen said. “Just the way out I went out there and showed the world the elite player that I am, how confident I am, how strong and physical I am. I believe that game played a big role. It motivated me a lot to even making my decision to come out early.”
Mayock wasn’t there to only scout Mullen but came away impressed.
“He had a great national championship game,” Mayock said. “He’s a long corner. We love his length. He fits (defensive coordinator) Paul Guenther’s defense to a T, a long press corner that runs. We’re really excited about this kid’s upside and we’re happy to pick up the extra picks.”
Mullen joins an increasingly crowded secondary with the Raiders. Former first-round pick Gareon Conley is expected to start at one of the cornerback spots. Oakland also tendered Daryl Worley, who started nine games in 2018.
The Raiders didn’t have a third-round pick but stockpiled additional selections in the latter rounds, something Mayock had hinted he wanted to do.
Oakland began the day moving back three spots from 35th to 38th in a trade with the Jaguars. The Raiders also acquired Jacksonville’s fourth-round pick (109th overall) in exchange for a fifth (140) and seventh (235).
Mayock continued to work the phones and made another deal moments later with the Bills. Oakland dropped back two more spots to 40th overall and picked up a fifth-rounder from Buffalo.
The phone didn’t stop ringing, even as Mayock worked his way downstairs to talk to the media following the end of the third round.
“The goal coming into today was not to lose Trayvon and try to pick up some picks,” Mayock said. “And that’s what happened.”
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