Despite playing in a contentious, talented division, the Oakland Raiders still must deal with a tough, non-conference schedule. With Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock turning the roster over, the team looks to deploy a slew of defenders. During 2019, the NFL did the Raiders no favors in scheduling. As a result, the Silver and Black face weekly tests. If you peruse the schedule, you could miss an underrated wideout.
Adam Thielen may not jump to the mind as an upper-tier wideout, yet his stats say different. Over the last two seasons, Thielen tallied 2014 catches and 2649 yards. In addition, he snagged thirteen scores in the process.
After the Vikings locked Thielen up to a long-term deal, he offered a strong yet factual take.
“Money is good and everything, but championships are what it’s about,” Thielen said. “Maybe [it’s] a little bit, too, of feeling appreciated more than the fact that they paid me this amount of money. But like I said, it’s all about winning, it’s all about giving back, and it’s all about being in a situation that you feel comfortable in.
If you are a fan and think Gareon Conley will embarrass Thielen from the first snap, stop. Meanwhile, don’t look his skin color. Grade Thielen on his technique and skills. First, Thielen runs crisp routes. More importantly, he sells head and shoulder fakes in concert with the double move. If he catches a DB sitting, expecting a certain route, Thielen will fly by them. Next, he will set up either in the slot or on the outside. As a result, his route will give any corner trouble. Yet, for all of this, Thielen catches everything. In 2018, he enjoyed a 73.9 catch percentage on 113 catches.
Entering his third season, the Raiders finally employ a shutdown corner. Gareon Conley began to live up to his draft status. In Thielen, Conley faces an interesting opponent. As mentioned, the route versatility, and nuance will present a problem. However, Conley length and twitch will give him a fantastic chance to slow down Thielen.
Given these points, the Thielen/Conley matchup could dictate the winner of the game. The Raiders need their best corner to blanket Thielen. If he can, this will add to Conley’s growing reputation.