The 2017 NFL Draft kicked off on Thursday, with the first-round kicking off in Philadelphia. Slotted at No. 24, the Oakland Raiders decided to address the defense by selecting defensive back Gareon Conley. The team didn’t have many offensive aspirations during the offseason, with Marshawn Lynch, Jared Cook and Cordarrelle Patterson joining the offensive unit.
The Raiders selection certainly didn’t come without some negatives, in regards to Conley’s situation off the field. The Ohio native spent three seasons at Ohio State, roaming around difference places on the defensive side.
Although Conley is currently under investigation for a domestic violence related issue, Del Rio and McKenzie must have been sure of the situation before gambling their first-round pick. Conley arrived to the Raiders’ facility for an introductory press conference on Friday, with McKenzie asking all reporters to keep questions related to football.
When asked about what Conley brings to the team, both McKenzie and Del Rio were confident in his character as a teammate. Del Rio dove into the culture the Raiders have built and how they envision Conley fitting in, via the Raiders introductory press conference:
“So it’s about the players taking that message and making it their own. We’ve created that culture and now it’s a matter of sustaining it. Adding a guy like this right here, Gareon, really a good, young man, who’s been a great teammate. We want him to come in here and be a great teammate here as well.”
Conley was chosen by his peers to be a captain for Ohio State, as a respected upper classman on the defensive side. During his senior season, Conley collected 26 total tackles (21 solo), four interceptions and eight passes defended.
After gaining an understanding of the situation, the coaching staff must have felt confident with how the allegations would play out. The Raiders actually reside as the team in the NFL that has gone the longest without an arrest, a commendable three-year streak.
Conley also took questions from reporters in attendance, stating that he couldn’t stand still during his flight to Oakland. The surreal feeling of being drafted is something that validates all the hard work these athletes have undergone, with the commitment towards becoming excellent.
The six-foot defender described the honor it is to go from a popular college program towards one of the most historic franchises in NFL history, explaining the love he has already received from Raiders faithful:
“It’s an honor to come from somewhere like Ohio State to a program like this is like a more rich program than Ohio State. Being in black and silver, I see all the fans. They showed me so much love already and I hadn’t even been here yet.”
During his three-year career at Ohio State, Conley accumulated 91 total tackles (66 solo), half a sack, one tackle for loss, six interceptions and 15 passes defended. The Raiders first-round selection will join a wide-open competition for the secondary, with a chance to make an immediate impact.