Gareon Conley’s difficult week ended with relief.
The Ohio State cornerback, who emphatically declared his innocence after a woman accused him of rape in an April 9 encounter, was taken by the Oakland Raiders with the 24th pick of the NFL draft on Thursday.
Conley had been considered among the draft’s risers. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said Tuesday he expected Conley to be taken by the middle of the first round.
Then the allegation against Conley surfaced. He was not arrested and no charges have been filed. A source told The Dispatch that Conley volunteered on Thursday to take a polygraph test and that he passed.
NFL.com’s Adam Schefter reported that at least 24 teams called Conley in the two days before the draft to discuss the accusation. Still, there were questions about whether a team would invest a first-round pick in a player with such an accusation still unresolved.
The Raiders answered it.
“I pride myself in doing things the right way on and off the field,” Conley said in his statement proclaiming his innocence. “The things said about me and what happened that night are not true and don’t fit my character at all. I realize I put myself in the situation and I could have used better judgment. However, I have worked tirelessly to put myself in position to have the honor of being an NFL draft pick and these untrue allegations are putting a huge cloud over my name and the NFL Draft.”
That cloud has been lifted — at least on the football side.