Raiders Use 1st Pick On Ohio State Cornerback Gareon Conley
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Despite rape allegations that emerged days before the draft, Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley was taken by the Oakland Raiders with the No. 24 pick on Thursday night.
Conley seemed like a lock to be selected early in the first round until earlier this week, when it was revealed that he had been accused of sexually assaulting a woman in Cleveland.
He called the allegations "completely false" and no charges have been filed as police investigate. Conley was named in a police report that details the allegations but no information has been forwarded to prosecutors.
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said he and his staff did extensive research on Conley and were confident the situation will be resolved.
An attorney for Conley has said that his client was willing to meet with detectives and agreed to give a DNA sample to counter the sexual assault claims.
Despite obvious needs at defensive tackle and middle linebacker, McKenzie and coach Jack Del Rio instead opted for a talented player who was projected to be a top 15 pick before his stock took a hit following the allegations.
Conley started every game over the past two years at Ohio State and allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete just 37 percent of their throws in his direction. The 6-foot, 195-pound junior had six interceptions in three seasons including four in 2016 while playing almost strictly on the outside.
The pick addresses Oakland's lack of depth in the secondary. Starters Sean Smith and David Amerson had up-and-down years in 2016 and the Raiders don't have much behind them. Oakland also has a hole to fill in the slot after declining to pick up the option year on DJ Hayden's contract this offseason.
Hayden was the last cornerback the Raiders drafted in the first round and the very first first-round pick made by McKenzie after becoming general manager. Hayden was the 12th overall pick in 2013 but was hindered by injuries and missed 19 games over four seasons in Oakland before the team cut ties with him this offseason.