The Las Vegas Raiders have had a mixed track record drafting in the first round in the last decade. Although they have spotted a few Pro Bowlers, they have taken a few duds. Curiously enough, they have chosen three cornerbacks and the results are less than encouraging.Â
Alex Kay of Bleacher Report recently talked about each NFL team’s worst first-round selection in the last ten years. When writing about the Raiders, the choice was cornerback Gareon Conley, whom they drafted 24th overall in 2017. Kay sees injuries and being a poor scheme fit as the two main reasons behind the Ohio State product’s lack of success. He later mentions that things weren’t much better for him after being traded to the Houston Texans in 2019 and points out that he’s currently a free agent.
Conley was off to a bad start with the Raiders. A woman accused him of raping her a few days before the 2017 NFL Draft took place. Ultimately, a grand jury in Ohio opted not to indict him. However, a shin injury limited him to just two games in his rookie campaign. In the end, he appeared in 23 games with 20 starts for the Silver and Black and logged 44 total tackles, 18 passes defensed, and four interceptions. Looking back, injuries definitely played a big role in the cornerback’s struggles. Nevertheless, he may not have been the Raiders’ worst first-round pick in the last ten years.
What about the other two first-round corners the Raiders drafted?
Conley isn’t the only cornerback the Raiders have drafted in the first round in the last decade. They took D.J. Hayden 12th overall in 2013 and Damon Arnette 20th overall in 2020. The former has struggled with injuries throughout his eight-year career while the latter was a non-factor in his rookie campaign. It’s still early to label Arnette as a bust but the early returns aren’t encouraging. Also, Hayden played more games with the Raiders than Conley, so Kay’s choice makes sense. Also, Arnette has still time to turn things around but looking at the results it’s difficult to declare any of them a good pick.
On the bright side, the Raiders drafted left tackle Kolton Miller, defensive end Khalil Mack, running back Josh Jacobs, and wide receiver Amari Cooper in the first round, so not all their picks have been bad. It will be interesting to see what direction they take with the 17th overall pick in 2021’s draft.
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Top Photo: Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal