The Raiders took a chance in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft by selecting Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley, who had been accused of rape two days earlier.
The Raiders confidence in Conley has paid off, as a grand jury in Ohio has decided not to indict Conley.
He had been accused of raping a woman in a Cleveland hotel on April 9. When he met with police, Conley said that he and the woman had had a consensual sexual encounter. But with the grand jury ruling in his favor, Conley will not be charged with a crime.
Lawyer Kevin Spellacy says client Gareon Conley trusted, participated in legal system. "Today, he was vindicated." Full statement: pic.twitter.com/8DBLfiD4qq— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) July 31, 2017
It could have been a disaster for the Raiders if Conley was charged and eventually found guilty. It would have been a wasted first round draft pick when the team needs a playmaker on the defensive side of the ball. But those concerns are over and Conley will be able to contribute this season.
Though cleared, Conley is not practicing yet, as he is on the physically unable to perform list due to shin splints. He can be activated at any time once the Raiders deem him ready to play. Conley has not missed much as training camp began late last week for the Raiders. The first preseason game is on August 14, as Oakland takes on Arizona.
Conley was one of the best cornerbacks in college football last season. As a Buckeye he allowed just 14 receptions in his final season. Plus had a nation-leading quarterback rating of 14.0 when he was targeted, per Pro Football Focus.
Conley should be able to help the Raider defense right away. Oakland allowed the most yards per play in the NFL last season.
The investigation and shin splints weren’t the only story lines following Conley this offseason. He was one of the last draft picks to sign a contract. But the Raiders and Conley agreed to a deal on Friday that will pay Conley over $10 million over the next four seasons.