The Raiders have had their fair share of draft hits over the last decade, including Amari Cooper, Khalil Mack and Josh Jacobs. However, they have certainly have had some misses too, including D.J. Hayden and Rolando McClain.
But one of the bigger misses for the Raiders includes the selection of cornerback Gareon Conley in 2017. In fairness to the Raiders, Conley dealt with injuries as a rookie and was decent in 2018 and 2019. The team also was able to recoup a third-round pick after trading him to the Texans.
However, Conley never lived up to his status at the No. 24 pick in the draft, even when he was healthy. So how did the Raiders miss on the former Ohio State cornerback?
In a recent article by Pro Football Focus, they took a look at some of the biggest draft busts from the 2017 class. PFF cited a “scheme fit” issue with Conley as he was forced into playing in a system that didn’t fit his skill set.
Conley was a man cornerback coming out of Ohio State. That was where he thrived. After getting injured as a rookie, Conley was then thrust into a very zone-heavy scheme in Oakland. He was such a poor fit that he was traded midway through last season, but there’s still hope for him. On 275 snaps in man coverage in his career, he’s allowed only a 51.1 completion percentage and forced incompletions on 28.9% of his targets.
When Jon Gruden took over in 2018, the schemed changed and Conley was no longer a fit in Paul Guenther’s defense. Luckily for Conley, he is still just 24-years old and is now on a team that plays more man coverage.
But Conley’s lack of success in Oakland is a perfect example of why organizational stability matters. If the Raiders didn’t have to make a change in the front office or with the coaching staff, Conley is still likely wearing the Silver and Black.
With Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden now tied at the hip for the foreseeable future, hopefully, these types of misses will be far and few between. As for Conley, he still has a ton of time to turn his career around in Houston.