How to identify the next breakout NFL superstar

How to identify the next breakout NFL superstar

NFL Draft Profile: Tiawan Mullen, Cornerback, Indiana Hoosiers

NFL draft profile scouting report for Indiana cornerback, Tiawan Mullen
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#3
Pos: CB
Ht: 5100
Wt: 180
DOB: 7/12/00
Eligible: 2022
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Coconut Creek High School

Tiawan Mullen
Indiana Hoosiers


Pros:

Pun: Tiawan Mullen is an instinctual defender with boundary and nickel cornerback versatility and is a dynamic playmaker. Mullen is a solid all-around athlete who has good deep speed and most importantly, trusts it. He is regularly in off coverage and doesn’t backpedal or side shuffle too early and give up space underneath, instead trusting that he can run vertically with the best of them and remain in the hip pocket. Mullen excels in zone coverage - on the boundary he is often tasked with a flat zone in Cover Two or deep third in Cover Three and displays astute route combination recognition on high-lows. He loves to watch the QB’s eyes and has a great feel for baiting throws then showing aggressiveness at the catch point to make a play on the ball - 3 INTs and 17 PBUs in 18 games over two seasons. Furthermore, when asked to play zone in the nickel, Mullen shows off his reactionary quickness vs underneath routes to always be around the ball. Indiana also blitzes Mullen from the nickel and the boundary (when the offense is in tight splits) to the tune of 3.5 sacks in 2020. Mullen displays good timing off the snap, short-area burst to get into the backfield and the bend to aim himself towards the QB for a big hit. Finally, Mullen is a willing run defender when unblocked, whether he’s playing from the boundary or nickel, he has slippery movement skills to weave through traffic and get to the ball carrier.

Cons:

Pun: Mullen’s downside as a cornerback is his solid, not great athleticism. He has average hip fluidity when transitioning and average explosiveness when breaking down and driving on a break, thus he should not be expected to lock down shifty slot receivers in pure man coverage. Indiana did not trust him with those matchups and rotated in other nickel defenders when they played top slot receivers (OSU with Garret Wilson). In addition, Mullen’s lack of size/length will lead to questions on if he can play full time on the boundary and will likely need to move inside full time or become a matchup dependent cornerback, not an established starter. Lastly, while Mullen is a willing run defender, he struggles to shed blocks from receivers or tight ends and displays poor tackling technique. Mullen dives from too far away from the ball carrier and leads with his shoulder, instead of wrapping up - leading to being hurdled and juked very easily.

Summary:

Pun: Going into his Junior season, Mullen has some of the best ball (and sack) production of any cornerback in the country. His positional versatility and zone coverage prowess will make him a hot commodity for certain teams, but lack of size+athleticism could cross him off from some boards entirely. In the right system and role, Mullen can be a high-level starter who fills the box score with impactful negative plays and turnovers.

Background:

Taiwan Mullen was born July 20, 2000 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and comes from an athletic family where brother, Trayvon Mullen, played cornerback for the Clemson Tigers (2016-2018) and is now in the NFL playing for the Las Vegas Raiders. In addition, Taiwan is the cousin of Ravens star quarterback Lamar Jackson. Mullen attended Coconut Creek High School where he was a first-team all-county selection, four-year letter winner and honor roll student who totaled 112 career tackles, 14 interceptions (3 returned for a touchdown) and five forced fumbles. After high school, 247Sports ranked him as a 3-Star recruit, the 547th-best recruit nationally, the 55th-ranked cornerback recruit in the country and the 69th recruit in the state of Florida. Playing for the Indiana Hoosiers, Mullen burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2019, playing in 13 games, starting eight and totalling 13 PBUs which led the Big Ten and was second nationally among freshman. For his efforts, Mullen was awarded Honorable-mention All-Big Ten (coaches, media), first-team The Athletic Freshman All-American, first-team 247Sports True Freshman All-American, second-team PFF All-Freshman Team and was named Indiana’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year. That high level of play continued in 2020, where Mullen started all eight games and totalled 38 tackles (27 solo), three interceptions, four PBUs, 3.5 sacks and 4.5 TFLs. He led the Big Ten in sacks among defensive backs and was tied for sixth in the conference for interceptions. Mullen was named first-team All-American (FWAA), first-team All-American (Phil Steele), first-team All-Big Ten (media), second-team All-Big Ten (coaches) was put on Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List and was named Indiana’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year. Mullen is as impressive off the field as he is on, and Indiana cornerbacks coach Brandon Shelby really values his versatility, “When you watch him on the field, when he's out of corner he's playing press-man off man, a little bit of cover two, then we put him in the middle position he's blitzing, he's doing things that really kind of go on and really the nickel is kind of a linebacker. We've taken a linebacker out and put another DB in there so what the committee had a chance to see is a guy who does so many different things and even on special teams and so when you put that all together. To me, I think that equals an All-American." 


One-Liners

Pun: Instinctual cornerback with boundary and nickel versatility that excels recognizing route combinations in zone coverage and baiting QBs into risky throws plus shows nuance as a blitzer but his lack of size and average hip fluidity+explosiveness will limit him from being a strong man coverage defender versus shifty route runners.

Grades

Current Player Value/Potential Player Value

Pun: 7.4 / 8.6


#3
Pos: CB
Ht: 5100
Wt: 180
DOB: 7/12/00
Eligible: 2022
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Coconut Creek High School

Tiawan Mullen
Indiana Hoosiers


Pros:

Pun: Tiawan Mullen is an instinctual defender with boundary and nickel cornerback versatility and is a dynamic playmaker. Mullen is a solid all-around athlete who has good deep speed and most importantly, trusts it. He is regularly in off coverage and doesn’t backpedal or side shuffle too early and give up space underneath, instead trusting that he can run vertically with the best of them and remain in the hip pocket. Mullen excels in zone coverage - on the boundary he is often tasked with a flat zone in Cover Two or deep third in Cover Three and displays astute route combination recognition on high-lows. He loves to watch the QB’s eyes and has a great feel for baiting throws then showing aggressiveness at the catch point to make a play on the ball - 3 INTs and 17 PBUs in 18 games over two seasons. Furthermore, when asked to play zone in the nickel, Mullen shows off his reactionary quickness vs underneath routes to always be around the ball. Indiana also blitzes Mullen from the nickel and the boundary (when the offense is in tight splits) to the tune of 3.5 sacks in 2020. Mullen displays good timing off the snap, short-area burst to get into the backfield and the bend to aim himself towards the QB for a big hit. Finally, Mullen is a willing run defender when unblocked, whether he’s playing from the boundary or nickel, he has slippery movement skills to weave through traffic and get to the ball carrier.

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