Oakland Raiders How will the team replace Gareon Conley?

Oakland Raiders Gareon Conley (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Oakland Raiders Gareon Conley (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

The Oakland Raiders traded away cornerback Gareon Conley Monday afternoon. But now without their top corner, how does the team expect to replace Conley?

In just the past couple of years, the Oakland Raiders have made some trades that have been interesting, to say the least. And their most recent trade of cornerback Gareon Conley is just another addition to the list.

The trades of wide receiver Amari Cooper and defensive end Khalil Mack were certainly moves that had fans questioning the front office.

While general manager Mike Mayock‘s latest transaction may not be quite as controversial as those two moves, it is certainly an eye-opening one, to say the least.

The Raiders traded Conley to the Houston Texans, a team they will face this Sunday, Oct. 27th, in exchange for a third-round pick in an upcoming NFL Draft.

Only two years removed from being Oakland’s first-round pick in 2017, the Ohio State product put up decent numbers in his time with the Silver and Black.

Conley has four career interceptions, with three coming in his rookie year. His one interception this year helped to seal a win against the Chicago Bears in London back in week five.

According to Vic Tafur of the Athletic, the Raiders traded Conley to Houston because they felt it was the best offer they received.

With Conley now gone, the Raiders will now have to look to either Trayvon Mullen, Keisean Nixon, or Nevin Lawson to fill the void. Oakland also has rookie Isaiah Johnson who was recently designated to return from the injured reserve but is yet to make his NFL debut.

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The Raiders took both Mullen and Johnson in last year’s draft while Nixon was signed as an undrafted rookie and after head coach Jon Gruden’s comments in his press conference on Monday, it looks like Oakland wants to play as young as possible.

“We do have some young corners that we drafted, we want to look at some younger players,” Gruden said.

If the Raiders do indeed go with one of their newly drafted players, Mullen would be the most appealing option. The second-round pick out of Clemson earned four interceptions and two sacks in his collegiate career.

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Shaking things up with a new draft pick may be necessary for a defense that has allowed an average of 289.8 passing yards a game, which is second to last in the NFL. If the Raiders want to have any chance of earning a playoff spot, that number has to improve.

Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers showed exactly how big that need is. Granted, the Raiders aren’t going to be facing Aaron Rodgers week in and week out. The likes of Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford await.

For Mayock and the Raiders, Conley was clearly not a part of the solution to that problem and now Oakland must evaluate its options to come up with one.

With the trade deadline coming up on Tuesday, Oct. 29th, perhaps the Raiders are trying to find a solution outside of the roster. With former Jacksonville Jaguar cornerback Jalen Ramsey now on the Los Angeles Rams, the market for cornerbacks doesn’t look too appealing as of right now.

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However, with multiple future first-round picks at the Raiders disposal, there is always a possibility for the Raiders to sway someone with those as the lure. Players like Chris Harris Jr. and Patrick Peterson remain entrenched in trade rumors.

A best-case scenario for the Raiders here would be watching someone like Mullen jump onto the scene. Given the Raiders’ desire to get younger, I believe this is the direction they’ll take.

Mayock trading away draft picks to get current players doesn’t sound like something a team that wants to get younger would do.

The Raiders will probably try to see what they can get out of their current cornerback group and if they like what they see, they’ll stick with players like Mullen, Johnson, and Nixon and let them develop this season.

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Should the experiment not work however, they still have plenty of draft capital to address it. As for 2019, Raiders fans should start preparing to see some experimentation at cornerback.