The Raiders needed Gareon Conley in 2017, but the team’s No. 1 pick gave them just two games and leaves the team wondering just how good the cornerback is.
Will Conley, a former standout cornerback at Ohio State, be the shut-down star general manager Reggie McKenzie believes he can be? Or will the injuries that dogged his rookie season be a prelude of fragility and unanswered promises?
The Raiders won’t know, of course, until the 2018 season. But new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is in Conley’s corner. One of the things he’s most excited about is tapping into the youth on the roster, including Conley and second-round pick Obi Melifonwu, a safety who also played very little because of injuries.
Guenther, formerly defensive coordinator for the Bengals, told Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com that Conley was his “favorite” cornerback in last spring’s draft.
“He’s smooth. … He’s a good press corner, which we love to have,” said Guenther. “So I’m excited to work with him. We just need to keep these guys out on the grass and keep them healthy and teach them the system.
“Because I always tell these guys, you don’t help us when you’re in the training room for 10 weeks out of the season. You’re not helping the team.”
Guenther says he’s eager to work with Conley and believes he can be outstanding.
So far, there’s been no word from the team regarding how Conley is progressing after having to be shut down on injured reserve in November because of a shin injury.
At one point during this past season, former head coach Jack Del Rio said it was not just the injury but Conley’s ability to deal with it that was a problem.
“There’s a certain amount of pain that’s involved that keeps him from doing what he needs to do,” Del Rio had said. “And when that is under control and he’s able to go, then we look forward to having him. But until that is under control and he’s able to do the things he needs to do, he’s going to remain sidelined.”