Fingers crossed Raider Nation that this is the season we get to see 2017 draft pick Gareon Conley have a full season and become the shutdown corner that everyone has been praying for.
Raider Nation has their fingers crossed that former first-round draft pick Gareon Conley will play a full season and become the shut-down corner Oakland has long desired since the days of Nnamdi Asomugha. Will 2018 be that year?
Conley showed flashes of greatness in a Week 2 matchup last season against the New York Jets. Despite it serving as a brief look at the former Buckeye, it gave a glimmer of hope that the Raiders have a shut-down corner for many years to come. Unfortunately, Conley’s shins would give way the following week and as a result, he was put on the shelf for the remainder of his rookie season.
Despite Conley not being on the field to showcase his talents, his collegiate resume and the brief snippet of playing time in the NFL is enough to silence any naysayers. Fast forward to now and Conley’s injury has since healed and he is right on schedule in his return to the field.
If skeptics remain with Conley, consider checking the thoughts of coach Jon Gruden. On a conference call with season ticket holders, Gruden said, “We are excited about the return of Gareon Conley, our first round draft choice” Gruden added that “He’s at full speed, he’s at full strength, and you talk about a huge addition to our team.”
The Raiders will undoubtedly be the beneficiary of Conley’s presence on the field. After all, while at Ohio State it was his stellar play that earned the nickname “Conley Island”, a soon to be destination of isolation for NFL wide receivers.
Now, when news broke about the signing, many were left wondering who exactly this player is as Rashaan Melvin’s name is not as widely renowned compared to other NFL veteran cornerbacks.
Originally, Reggie McKenzie and co. were hopeful Sean Smith could be Oakland’s next great physical corner, however, Melvin has now arrived to fill the role with his 6-foot-2 frame.
The physicality Melvin brings to the field is what helps him rattle opposing wideouts. Last season, Melvin put together a spectacular performance as he shut down arguably the leagues most talented receiver as Antonio Brown of the Steelers could only manage two catches for 42-yards.
Melvin is fully aware of his doubters but plans on doing what he does best, proving them wrong. From making it as a walk-on at Northern Illinois to bouncing around the NFL ranks, Melvin is used to working against the odds. Melvin said via SiriusXM NFL Radio that, “it’s hard to fight the stigma that ‘this guy hasn’t played a full season. This guy, he’s unproven,” but added he “takes it as motivation.”
With Melvin joining Conley on the opposite side, it will add a needed veteran presence as Conley is preparing for his first full season. This duo as it stands now on paper should far outperform what Raider Nation saw last season.
Since Conley has come back from surgery he has received high praise from his counterpart Melvin as he said, “The kid plays with extreme confidence.” And added that, “his work ethic, I mean, he’s one of those guys, you tell him something once and he’s able to get it done for you.”
These two have the best potential to lead this secondary to new heights next season. Things certainly look good on paper, but one thing is for sure, these two will be anchoring the secondary in 2018.