Notable Quotables: Raiders Draft Gareon Conley

Oct 15, 2016; Madison, WI, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Gareon Conley (8) during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Ohio State won 30-23. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 15, 2016; Madison, WI, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Gareon Conley (8) during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Ohio State won 30-23. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

Notable quotes from the Oakland Raiders following the 24th overall selection of Gareon Conley, including from himself, Reggie McKenzie and Jack Del Rio.

The Oakland Raiders selected Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley in the first round of the NFL draft, at 24 overall. You’ve also probably heard that Conley is currently mired in a rape investigation, though all early indications are that he will likely be cleared of any wrongdoing.

This was a bit of a surprising pick given the Raiders and GM Reggie McKenzie’s propensity for picking clean players without off field issues. Many teams had apparently taken Conley off their board completely pending the outcome. Others, though, were considering him in the first round as well.

Obviously a pick like this is polarizing, and thus a lot of people have a lot to say. Conley himself is, of course, grateful to the Raiders for taking a shot on him. His initial reaction after being drafted says it all:

He’s on his way to Oakland today and is so excited he can’t sit still:

GM Reggie McKenzie traditionally steers clear of controversy, but he’s known as a diligent man. He is confident in the research and vetting the Raiders did, as he told Peter King of Sports Illustrated’s MMQB.

"“I understand the issues involved,” Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie, the reigning NFL executive of the year, told me late Thursday night. “But we did our research, and we read all the reports, and we did more than our due diligence. After all the information we got, we were comfortable with making this choice and confident in who this player is.”"

King asked McKenzie if he’d heard anything from his peers, as this was considered a very bold and surprising pick. Unsurprisingly, McKenzie said no, he hadn’t really talked to anyone. But he reiterated his belief in the pick and that he is only out for the truth.

"“Actually, no,” McKenzie said. “I haven’t spoken to a lot of my peers, but that doesn’t matter. The people who know me know that I’m a man of character. I have two daughters. I have two sons too … I want the truth. I want the truth to show itself.”"

Conley told SI how happy he was to be a Raider after everything that’s happened recently.

"“When they called,” Conley said, “it was the best moment of my life. Just to know they have faith in me, not just as a football player but as a person, speaks highly of them, and I really appreciate it.”"

McKenzie confirmed to SI that “You could feel the thankfulness in his voice.”

Coach Jack Del Rio, also well-known as a man of character, is excited by the choice and confident the Raiders went the right way. Per USA Today reporter Lindsay Jones:

As reported by Kyle Martin from, Del Rio is not only confident in Conley’s character but also excited by the player he sees on film and expects Conley to come in and help immediately.

"“Really talented corner that’s capable of playing man or zone. He’s a football junkie, he loves to compete, he’s been well respected from the people I’ve spoken to personally about him. He loves to compete, good teammate, and a quality kid. He’s got great length, great speed, really strong workouts throughout the spring, and his tape is really good. He’s one of those really clean players we were fortunate enough to get our hands on here late in this first round.”"

Raider players have all been supportive. Derek Carr showed his support — and as always promoted his teammate and his new rookie card:

Khalil Mack was, as usual, succinct and to the point:

Receiver Seth Roberts anticipates some battles with Conley, and looks forward to the two of them competing:

And Sean Smith, who may one day be replaced by Conley on the outside, threw a little humorous shade at the rookie before welcoming him to the squad:

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network was initially surprised:

But in an interview with TMZ, Rapoport confirmed the Raiders did their due diligence and that if it all shakes down, feels the Raiders got a steal in Conley at 24th overall.

"“From what I understand the Raiders did a lot of work on this. From when everyone found out the charges, they investigated everything. It’s something you don’t do unless you’re 100% confident. If he’s cleared, the Raiders got one of the best players in the draft.” Rapoport told TMZ. “Obviously the Raiders felt good enough about the situation to spend $5M plus for signing bonus, everything. This is the position they wanted, they were focused on cornerback coming in to the draft. Raiders were good anyway, but assuming this works out, I think they got really good.”"

Raider Nation, of course, had no shortage of opinion on the controversial pick. The reaction was mostly positive, and many were praising Conley’s on-field abilities:

It appears that while the pick is controversial and the allegations still loom, Conley is widely considered a fine young man by those who drafted him. The Raiders did their diligence and are confident in this pick, and it’s been well received by Raider Nation and pundits alike.

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As Conley himself said, he’s on his way to Oakland. He plans to meet with detectives in Cleveland on Monday to submit to a DNA test and provide interviews to clear up the rape case.

All actual evidence and anecdotal evidence point to him doing just that. Then it’s time to get to work.