Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group Raiders first-round draft pick Gareon Conley, left, answers questions under the watchful eye of G.M. Reggie McKenzie.
ALAMEDA — Gareon Conley was drafted by the Raiders to play defense, but he found out first-hand Friday what it meant to have a formidable lead blocker.
That job fell to general manager Reggie McKenzie, who outlined the ground rules at the outset of the 10-minute press conference at the club facility.
“We addressed the issue regarding Gareon last night, from the Raiders end, and himself, so let’s just talk football, all right? Thanks,” McKenzie said.
The “issue” is a recent rape allegation in Cleveland, with both Conley in a conference call and McKenzie following the Day 1 selection believing the situation would be resolved in Conley’s favor.
With that topic off limits, Conley discussed his high school and college career and his feelings about joining the Raiders.
Conley was the third of three Ohio State defensive backs drafted in the first round after cornerback Marshon Lattimore (No. 11 to New Orleans) and safety Malik Hooker (No. 15 to Indianapolis).
Yet was Conley, who came out after his junior year, who was regarded as the leader of one of the country’s best position groups.
“I was captain this past year and the leader of the secondary and I feel like I earned that through experience and just how I handled myself on and off the field,” Conley said. “A lot of young guys looked up to me and came to me for questions. That’s how it was when I came in. Some of the older guys showed me how to be a leader in the secondary room, what to do on and off the field, in the weight room, with practice habits and in games. That’s lead by action, mostly.”
Conley said he slept about four hours since being picked at No. 24 and has already felt the love of his new fan base.
“They’ve shown me so much love already and I haven’t even been here yet, it’s just an honor to be here,” Conley said. “It was a short turnaround, but when I got that call last night, I couldn’t even hear because my family tackled me as soon as I put my phone to my ear. I’ve been shaking ever since. It’s the most proud I’ve ever been I’ve ever been of myself in my life, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Asked what he’s learned about himself in recent weeks, Conley said, “to keep trust in yourself, have a great support system and never lose faith.”