Monday afternoon, Oakland Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden announced during his weekly press conference that the team had traded former first-round cornerback Gareon Conley to the Houston Texans in exchange for a third-round pick.
“We did trade cornerback Gareon Conley to the Houston Texans, and it was a tough decision obviously,” Gruden said. “Certainly, wish Gareon the best, he’s a good young player, but we have some corners that we drafted, Trayvon Mullen, Isaiah Johnson coming back soon, Keisean Nixon, Nevin Lawson is back. We want to look at some younger players and wish Gareon the best, and thank him for his contribution.”
In three seasons with the team, the former Ohio State Buckeye played in 23 games, starting in 20, and totaled four interceptions, 18 passes defensed, 67 tackles, and one touchdown. As Gruden pointed out, it’s never easy to move on from a player, but the Raiders have a handful of talented young corners waiting in the wings for their opportunity, and the team wants to see what they’re able to contribute.
Mullen was selected in the secondround of the 2019 NFL Draft, and has good range to go along with his vast potential. During the Raiders’ Week 1 matchup with the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football, Mullen saw some playing time, but struggled against Emmanuel Sanders. Since then, Gruden and the coaching staff have been pleased with his development and are ready to give him his shot.
“Progressively improving and the only way to get these guys ready for primetime is to put them out there,” Gruden explained when asked about Mullen’s growth. “So, we like the progress he’s made, that’s why we took him at the top of the second round, but we also like Isaiah Johnson the way he looked last week on the practice field, and Nevin Lawson is a guy that’s starting to fit the game. You throw in Keisean Nixon and we feel like we’ve got some guys we want to take a look at.”
It’s unclear how much Lawson and Mullen will rotate this Sunday against the Texans, but one thing we know for sure as of now is that the Raiders have five draft picks in the first 90 of next year’s draft. That is a lot of draft capital to play with. Since the hiring of General Manager Mike Mayock, the Raiders have made a lot of moves, and with the October 29 trade deadline looming, it’s possible that the team isn’t done.
“We’re going to try,” Gruden said. “We’re going to do what we feel like we can to improve. Obviously there’s a lot that goes into making trades, but we’re excited about having three third-round picks, two first-round picks in next year’s draft, and we’re really happy with the progress of a lot of our young players. We want to provide opportunity for some more of them.”
With a little over a week to go it’ll be interesting to see what the front office decides to do, but the team is moving forward and is excited about the young pieces they currently have available.