2017 Raiders: Conley now destined to be a force

Gareon Conley can now focus on developing into the force he’s expected to be for the Raiders. (Just don’t expect too much, otherwise, you might be disappointed)

Earlier this week, we found out that Gareon Conley wouldn’t be indicted after weeks of uncertainty and with that, he can finally work on becoming the contributor he is projected to be.

Fellow Raiders cornerback David Amerson spoke earlier about the potential Conley brings and the approach he should take when it comes to being a professional football player. One of the bright spots for Conley will be playing alongside someone as determined as Amerson, who had a career turnaround after the Raiders picked him up in 2015.

The future looks bright for the Raiders cornerback

Regarding Conley however, the tools are there, just don’t expect him to be a difference maker right away as he’ll likely encounter bumps on the road which is normal when it comes to a player’s development; first-year cornerbacks typically struggle as rookies.

Pro Football Focus ranked last year’s first-round cornerbacks, and their performance was less than stellar. Jalen Ramsey was the best of the bunch with a better-than-average 81.4 grade, followed by Steelers cornerback Artie Burns, who got a solid 75.9 overall grade.

In the same manner, Vernon Hargreaves of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was ranked 93 out 110 cornerbacks with a 44.4 grade; Eli Apple was not that much better and ended up being ranked 86 with 46.3. Other than Ramsey and Burns, the teams that selected corners in the first round of the draft didn’t get much production out of their rookies.

Similarly, the 2015 draft class didn’t fare much better in their first year. Although adequate, the Chiefs’ Marcus Peters has been the only member of that class to be selected to the Pro Bowl and that year he had a 72.8 grade. None of the first round corners from that class can be considered a “bust,” and yet none of them could be regarded as a prototypical “shutdown corner” either.

Trae Waynes, who was selected by the Minnesota Vikings and got a 72.6 grade in 2015, was even worse in his sophomore year as he got 59.9 and ranked 72 overall last year. Only Peters and Houston Texans corner Kevin Johnson improved in their second year.

Something that Conley has working in his favor is the fact that he will not be a featured corner as Sean Smith and David Amerson will hold the first and second corner slot, respectively. Even veteran T.J. Carrie can play in the slot while Conley adapts to the speed and nuisances of the NFL.

What cannot be argued is that Conley has the pedigree and even though he may eventually turn into a fine lockdown corner, the expectations that come with him being a highly regarded prospect coming out of college should be tempered.

All numbers provided by Profootball Focus unless stated otherwise.


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