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Raiders Surprise NFL Draft With Pick of CB Gareon Conley, Who’s Been Accused of Rape

Even Ahead of Las Vegas Move, Raiders Make Gamble Based on Results of Cornerback's Last Minute Polygraph Test at NFL Draft

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Gareon Conley
Gareon Conley (8) of the Ohio State Buckeyes intercepts a pass intended for Mike Williams of the Clemson Tigers during the first half of the 2016 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The Oakland (soon to be Las Vegas) Raiders called an audible in their war room Thursday night, selecting Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley with the team’s first pick in the NFL Draft.

While there is no arguing about the former Buckeye’s talent, he dropped further in the first round than would’ve been predicted a month ago because of a major problem off the field: a rape allegation. Conley has denied the alleged April 9 attack at a Cleveland hotel, but at a time when the NFL has been blitzed by successive PR nightmares with its handling of the Ray Rice and Josh Brown domestic violence scandals, many teams stayed away.

“We did our due diligence throughout this whole process,” Raiders GM McKenzie told reporters. “We trust our research, reports, everything that we have on Mr. Conley and we feel really good about picking Gareon Conley and having him join the Raiders team and having him being a great teammate for our players.”

And it didn’t take long for critics on social media to blitz the Raiders for selecting a possible rapist. Even for the Raiders, a team moving to Las Vegas, it’s a gamble that could do far-reaching damage to the team’s image.

Except Conley had taken a polygraph test earlier Thursday for another interested team and apparently passed, according to the NFL Network.

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“I’m very confident that it will be resolved,” Conley told reporters in a conference call after the draft. “I took a test today that helps and then when I make my statement and all the evidence I have, I feel confident it will be resolved.”

However the Cleveland police’s investigation turns out, Conley will hit the field for training camp carrying a lot more baggage than just his suitcases.

Read more about the Raiders’ decision to draft Conley at the San Jose Mercury News.

—RealClearLife