Gareon Conley’s time with the Raiders was a short, wild ride of ups and downs.
The cornerback from Ohio State, the team’s top pick in the 2017 draft, played just two games as a rookie because of a holdout and injury. He then came back strong in 2018 — after an early-season benching — playing 15 games and appeared to have a strong future, playing well against top receivers and getting three interceptions and 15 passes defensed.
Near the end of the 2018 season, Conley ranked among the NFL’s top graded corners, according to the analytic website Pro Football Focus, against both the run and in pass coverage.
So, the Raiders were optimistic about Conley going into 2019.
But things deteriorated, and after watching Conley get repeatedly burned in a loss to the Packers this past weekend, the Raiders decided to trade Conley to the Texans — the team they face this Sunday in Houston.
Oakland will receive a third-round draft choice in 2020 for Conley.
Head coach Jon Gruden called it a "tough decision" to deal Conley, whom he called "a good young player." But Gruden believes the team has some other young cornerbacks who can be more effective.
"We have some corners that we drafted, Trayvon Mullen, Isaiah Johnson, coming back soon, Keisean Nixon, Nevin Lawson is back," Gruden told the media Monday. "We want to look at some younger players."
There’s no clear starter for Sunday’s game against the Texans. That is likely to be determined this week in practice. Daryl Worley is listed as one starter, but Mullen, Nixon and Lawson could share snaps or one could emerge with a good week of work to get the bulk of snaps. Gruden indicated Mullen may be the favorite, saying he’s "progressively improving."
Added Gruden: "The only way to get these guys ready for prime time is to put them out there."
Sunday’s game between the 3-3 Raiders and 4-3 Texans is set to kick off at 10 a.m.