The “Gareon Conley is the next Raiders badass cover corner” hype train is going full steam. But by the sounds of it, the hype and reality trains are set to collide in Alameda.
Conley is a full go after a mysterious lower-leg injury (identified as a shin ailment but never truly revealed by a clandestine coaching staff) wiped out a majority of his rookie campaign. This is thoroughly encouraging for both the Oakland Raiders coaching staff and its rabid Raider Nation fan base.
Like his offseason flashes during his rookie year, the second-year man out of DB University (The Ohio State) continues to exhibit the traits of a legitimate shadow cornerback in OTAs. Sticky in coverage, ability to turn and run and — most importantly — find the ball and make a play on it. He is once again turning heads and impressing a brand new coaching crew.
“He’s doing good. Most importantly, he’s out there,” Guenther said on Tuesday after the team’s OTA. “He’s really understanding the little details of everything, the press techniques that we’re teaching. We have a lot of different coverages in now, so he’s done a really good job for us.”
Conley’s assimilation to the new system installed by Guenther and cornerbacks coach Derrick Ansley is no surprise. Coming up the football ranks, the soon-to-be 23-year old (in late June) was renowned for his intellect and ability to receive, digest and execute teachings.
It’s gotten the attention of veteran free agent Rashaan Melvin and returning vet Reggie Nelson.
“I think Gareon Conley is a long guy. We all know he’s a first-round draft pick. He plays confidently and his work ethic,” Melvin said. “He’s one of those guys that you tell him something once, he’s able to get it done for you.”
“Oh man, I’m happy to see Conley there running around. A player of his caliber – long, just like Melvin – he’s showing why he was the first-round pick,” Nelson said. “I think there’s a high standard out there for him and he’s holding that up. I think Conley is doing a great job right now doing what the coaches ask him to do.”
Let’s hit the Quick Slants as quickly as Conley executes:
- Some see the Raiders “calling out” Khalil Mack after Guenther said the defensive end will have a lot of catching up to do. That’s not a shot, that’s the defensive boss saying the truth, plain as day.
- Undrafted free agent Eddy Pineiro did all the kicking at the OTA on Tuesday. Incumbent Giorgio Tavecchio didn’t even get to boot once. One has to believe Steady Eddy has the “leg up” on the competition considering the Raiders drafted his holder and teammate punter Johnny Townsend.
- Will be intriguing to see if 2017 second-round pick Obi Melifonwu can ascend to where Conley is. He has the size and speed combination Guenther became accustomed to as Bengals’ defensive guru.
- Flier signing Daryl Worley is putting together a nice string of outings at OTAs. With the Raiders lack of quality depth at the CB position, Worley can make a solid case for the 53 with continued presence.
- Keep your eyes on Fadol Brown. The 25-year-old got interest late from teams as he resided on Oakland’s practice squad. The second-year UDFA has flashed at the edge but has the size to move inside if need be.
- I’m in the camp of Tank Carradine not only making the 53-man roster but being the run-stopping force at defensive end on early downs.
- Don’t understand the animosity towards Doug Martin potentially cutting into Marshawn Lynch’s snaps. Keeping Beast Mode fresh is beneficial to the Raiders.
- Can understand skepticism towards Nelson’s return to the Raiders. I can also see why he’s back considering the familiarity between him and Guenther.
Quote Of Note:
“Athletic. Very athletic guys. Very athletic guys that can move around. More three-technique type of guys. I’m still learning those guys names, but I know their numbers because they’re running around. They’re just very athletic. Not very big guys, but guys that can get off the ball. Nowadays it’s not really about base defense anymore, it’s about nickel because everyone is passing the ball. It’s a pass-happy league. You need some guys in the inside that can get some, everybody has these big money guys on the outside, you need some guys on the inside that can rush the passer on third down.”
— Derrick Johnson on the rookie defenders in OTAs