Raiders Draft

2017 Draft Revisited: Raiders Pick Malik Hooker Instead of Gareon Conley

It’s well known the NFL Draft is a crap shoot and that’s probably one of the biggest understatements in football. Other than maybe a handful of prospects, no general manager can tell how a player will turn out at the pro level. As far as 2017 is concerned, the (then Oakland) Raiders dropped the ball when they picked Gareon Conley.

Judging from general manager Mike Mayock’s draft approach last year, it’s safe to say he wouldn’t have taken a wager on Conley had he been in charge in 2017. Of course, the Raiders were in a different position that year. They were coming off a successful 2016 campaign that ended prematurely due to quarterback Derek Carr’s injury right before that season’s playoffs. The defensive struggles that came after that year have been well documented, so what if the Raiders had opted for safety Malik Harris instead of the former Ohio State cornerback?

A Re-Do of 2017

The NFL staff at The Athletic recently got together and went over a “re-do” of the 2017 draft. Vic Tafur, who covers the Raiders, is the one who picked Hooker if the draft had turned out differently knowing what we know now. As far as the 24th pick itself, Tafur had this to say about Hooker:

“If anything, taking the safety here would prevent the disastrous Obi Melifonwu pick in the second round. Conley is a decent corner, but the old and new coaching staffs questioned his fire, and he has since been dealt. Eddie Jackson would have been perfect, but he went at 19, and then Golladay went 21st. If the Raiders had any idea that Fournette would be available, they wouldn’t have traded for Marshawn Lynch just before the draft. The Raiders were really high on linebacker Jarrad Davis back then, so it might be him here. But we are going with Hooker. He has had flashes of brilliance for the Colts but been solid overall — which would be a huge boost in itself for a Raiders defense that has been bad for a long, long time.” — Vic Tafur

Tafur’s selection makes a lot of sense all things considered. Hooker hasn’t been a Pro Bowl safety but he’s certainly held his own these past three years. He’s accumulated 117 tackles, seven interceptions, and two fumble recoveries. Last season, he allowed a 76.0% completion percentage when targeted and allowed four passing touchdowns. Judging from his first three years, Hooker wouldn’t have been a franchise defining player.

Related: Which college QB should Raiders draft?

That being said, Tafur did look at the bigger picture. If the Raiders had gone with Hooker, they wouldn’t have wasted their second round pick on Obi Melifonwu. Why is that significant? Well not to enrage anyone, but it’s possible that the team could’ve walked away with Hooker and a wide receiver by the name of JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Meanwhile, here’s a live look at Raider Nation as they read this article:

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