ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Former Oakland Raiders first round draft pick Gareon Conley became a victim of the numbers game Monday and was traded to the Houston Texans for a 2020 third-round choice.
“It was a tough decision obviously,” Raiders head coach John Gruden told reporters. “We wish Gareon the best. He’s a good young player. We do have some young corners that we drafted. Trayvon Mullen. We have Isaiah Johnson coming back soon…We want to look at some younger players.”
Mullen was the team 2019 second-round pick out of Clemson while Johnson was selected in the fourth round out of Houston.
“We drafted two young corners who are ready to go,” Gruden said. “We want to give them an opportunity.”
The Raiders head coach is particularly high on Mullen.
“We talked about Mullen when we picked him,” Gruden said. “He’s got size. He’s still young. He was an underclassman at Clemson. He’s still raw. He still has some green to him but he’s a great kid. A great competitor. He’s got size, change of direction. He’s tough…He has a big upside.”
“I feel the same way about Isaiah,” the Raiders coach continued. “I think these guys need to get out there on the grass and play. I’ll take responsibility for how it goes, but I have their back. I got a lot of confidence in them.”
Conley is the third former first-round pick traded away by Oakland in the past 14 months. The Raiders sent 2014 first-rounder Khalil Mack to Chicago for a package that included two first-round picks and 2015 first-rounder Amari Cooper to Dallas for a 2019 first-round pick last season.
“Gareon got put on a great team with a good coach that is in contention,” Gruden said.
Conley never developed into a consistent pass defender during his three seasons in Oakland and was part of a defense that allowed Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers to throw five TD passes in a 42-24 loss on Sunday.
Gruden also liked the fact they acquired another draft pick in the 2020 draft.
“We have three third rounds picks — five picks in the top 90 (in the 2020 draft),” he said. “It is an area we wanted. We wanted to continue to add to our football team. We are excited about the possibilities next years in the draft. It is hard. It is hard to trade anybody, but we got some young guys we want to have an opportunity and that’s the decision we made.”
Conley appeared in 23 games and made 20 starts for the Raiders during his tenure with the club, totaling 61 tackles (42 solo), four interceptions including one returned for a touchdown and 19 passes defensed. Conley started all six of his appearances for the Raiders in 2019.
The Raiders will visit the Texans next Sunday.