For the doubters of the Oakland Raiders, this news could surprise them. The Raiders employ a player, drafted in the first round that met expectations. Obviously, the Raiders struggled with some first-round picks in their recent past. Yet, Gareon Conley continues to buck the trend.
Conley missed most of his true rookie season due to injury, and Raiders fans began to panic over the thought of another wasted first round pick. Conley would play two games in 2017 and would placed on the PUP/IR in his inaugural season.
However, in his “Ben Simmons” rookie year, Conley started to show up. When Conley finds his groove, he can be a pesky, relentless, thorn in the side (i.e., elite) of some of the most talented wide receivers in the NFL, such as Tyreek Hill and Antonio Brown.
During the 2018 season, Conley held Hill to one catch for 13 yards and Brown to five catches for 35 yards in back to back games.
Work in Progress
Conley is not perfect, but he is young and is certainly starting to solidify himself as one of the best corners in the game today. In 2018, Conley allowed 27 catches which is about 1.8 per game and second only to Richard Sherman’s 25 catches allowed. Conley also did not allow more than 35 yards in a game after week 5.
Gareon Conley is a treasure to have on the team, especially while he still sits two years in to his four-year rookie contract. As Conley progresses and grows, he continues filling the spot Nnamdi Asomugha left as the next great Oakland Raiders corner.
The biggest takeaway from Conley being this good is that he is only 23 years old and 2018 was his first real showing against NFL-level talent.
Shutting down Brown and Hill (the best and fastest receivers in the NFL, respectively) while not having a full NFL season under his belt is far more impressive than anyone could have expected him to be.
Gareon Conley is the most impressive defensive player the Raiders have currently. It really cannot be emphasized enough that he just completed his first full year in the NFL. Having such a young, elite talent is something the Raiders must build off and not take for granted. Not only is he improving physically, Conley has also expressed his desire to be better. “I feel like I’ve done a solid job, but I can always be better.”
Conley striving to be better, and not just resting on his laurels, after an incredible rookie season should strike fear into the hearts of any team with the Raiders on the schedule for seasons to come.
Enjoy Conley while the Raiders have him, because his rookie contract is up in two years and the Raiders could be caught in a situation where they would be footing the bill of the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.