Starting with the first round, we are going to take a look at every 2017 Oakland Raiders draft pick and discuss what can reasonably be expected from these guys in year one. The long term expectations are much different, this is more about who is ready to contribute on day one and how they will contribute.
First up is first round pick Gareon Conley.
This one, for obvious reasons, is a little more difficult to discuss. But for the purposes of this exercise, I’m going to cheat and make it easier. We are going to assume that Conley will be playing this season. Why? Because the other option is kinda boring to talk about.
Here, we will do it anyway and get it out of the way. If Gareon Conley has legal issues and doesn’t play, expect nothing from him.
Now, what to expect if he does play this season.
More than anyone else the Raiders drafted, Conley is a guy who should step in and make a big impact from day one. And fittingly so considering he’s a first round pick who was seen by many as a top 10-15 talent.
Conley was seen by many as the safe pick in a class full of talented corners. He doesn’t have the same upside as some of the athletic freaks but he’s also more polished than many of those guys and is seen as ready to play on day one.
And after spending time as the slot corner in 2016, Conley became more versatile and even more likely to contribute right away. It’s not to say that Conley will be the Raiders slot corner, I think that would be an unwise usage. Instead, I imagine Conley will be the Barnum and Bailey of the Raiders secondary. That is to say he will be a traveling corner.
Conley brings to the table what David Amerson and Sean Smith do not: The athleticism and agility to cover shifty wideouts. They will finally have an answer for guys like Brandin Cooks who gave the Raiders fits last year. I think Conley will see a significant number of snaps but may not be labeled a starter. Instead, I could see him being used situationally depending on the opponent. Teams with speedy/shifty receivers will get heavy doses of Conley, teams with receivers that Amerson and Smith can handle might see less of Conley.
But, I could also see Conley beating out Amerson or Smith and being a starter who is on the field at almost all times.
But no matter how he is used, Conley is a guy I would expect to see on the field a lot in his rookie year. I would also expect that his presence will be a major upgrade. The secondary will be better and as a result of that, the pass rush will have more time to get home. Conley might be the most impactful offseason addition period, not just in the draft.