Gutierrez: Three Raiders listed in NFL's Top 100

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Gutierrez: Three Raiders listed in NFL's Top 100

June 27, 2011GUTIERREZ ARCHIVE
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Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.comPolls are like, um, opinions -- everybody's got one. And just about everyone is more than willing to share theirs with you.So what makes the NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2011 poll different? Well, for one thing, the voting was done by the players themselves. Players were asked to vote for a Top 20 of their own and the ballots were counted until a Top 100 list was reached.And while the Top 10 is still to be unveiled, the Raiders had three players listed among the Top 100. Unless, of course, punter Shane Lechler or placekicker Sebastian Janikowski somehow sneak into the Top 10 to up the number for Oakland. I kid, of course. Kinda...

The three Raiders listed - No. 98 Darren McFadden, No. 66 Richard Seymour and No. 18 Nnamdi Asomugha.Asomugha, of course, is the most intriguing choice, seeing as how the free agent has most likely played his last game in Silver and Black and will be among the most coveted when the lockout ends and the free agency period begins.At No. 18 overall, Asomugha is only the third highest cornerback, behind Green Bay's Charles Woodson, who checked in at No. 16, and the New York Jets' Darrelle Revis, who will presumably be in the Top 10, which will be unveiled next Sunday.Raiders fans will disagree, vehemently. And Denver receiver Brandon Lloyd presented Asomugha in the NFL Network vignette on the Raiders free agent which aired Sunday night."What makes Nnamdi so good is his intelligence, knowing splits, and if I'm lining up five or six yards outside the numbers, he's anticipating and breaking route," Lloyd said. "It's pretty remarkable the studying you have to do as a receiver to change those tendencies."If I'm running and breaking route and I cut my split down, coach is like, 'Why are you doing that?' I say, 'Because Nnamdi's going to do undercut my route.'"In citing Asomugha's size -- he's 6-feet-2, 210 pounds -- long arms, quickness and his ability to anticipate the snap, Lloyd called Asomugha a "stick-to-you-like-glue guy."The show said Raiders opponents attempted 470 passes against Oakland in 2010, with only 13 being completed against Asomugha. None for a touchdown.A highlight was also shown of former Raider great cornerback Lester Hayes greeting Asomugha before a game."You a monster, man," Hayes told a giggling Asomugha. "Son, you can play bump and run. I love how you play bump and run."In what was perhaps the most telling portion of the segment, though, former Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall needled safety Michael Huff when he came over to help Asomugha in a game."Ya'll going to play me like that?" Marshall shrieked. "You got Nnamdi. That's the best in the league. Damn."Raiders fans might be cursing just as loudly if and when he signs elsewhere.Part of the reason for Asmougha probably leaving will be the hefty raise Al Davis gave Stanford Routt and Seymour, who was listed as a defensive end, even though he played defensive tackle in 2010.As such, Seymour was the sixth defensive end listed, behind Kansas City's Tamba Hali (No. 64), the New York Giants' Justin Tuck (No. 60), Indianapolis' Robert Mathis (No. 44) and Dwight Freeney (No. 15) and, again, presumably, Chicago's Julius Peppers (Top 10).McFadden may have enjoyed a breakout season but was only the 11th running back listed, behind the 49ers' Frank Gore (No. 94), Houston's Vonta Leach (No. 65), Baltimore's Ray Rice (No. 56), Atlanta's Michael Turner (No. 42), St. Louis' Steven Jackson (No. 38), Kansas City's Jamaal Charles (No. 33), Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew (No. 30), Houston's Arian Foster (No. 25), Tennessee's Chris Johnson (No. 13) and, no doubt, Minnesota's Adrian Peterson (Top 10).So which Raiders were snubbed in the Top 100? Tight end Zach Miller, perhaps? Lechler and SeaBass?The poll made for good water cooler fodder in the lockout. So who are your Top 10? Still to be listed include quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees, running back Peterson, receiver Andre Johnson, defensive end Peppers, linebacker Ray Lewis, cornerback Revis and safeties Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu.

Raiders' first-round pick Conley opens up on emotions after off-field issues

Raiders' first-round pick Conley opens up on emotions after off-field issues

ALAMEDA – Gareon Conley’s name has been sullied, at least temporarily. He feared it would be long enough to send him free falling down the NFL Draft.

The Ohio State cornerback and top-15 prospect was accused of rape stemming from an April 9 incident in Cleveland, an allegation he called “completely false.”

The Raiders clearly believe him. That’s why they drafted him No. 24 overall on Thursday evening, and expect him to be a long-term solution in their secondary.

Conley wasn’t sure how far he’d fall after being beaten down by one rough week, when the allegation went public. Reggie McKenzie’s first-round selection and subsequent call was more emotional than expected.

“It made it 10 times more special,” Conley said Thursday night in a conference call. “Just having that doubt in my mind, just not knowing (how far I would fall). Just having faith and having doubt, I didn’t know what was going to happen. When it came, it shocked me. It felt unreal, honestly. It still feels unreal.”

Being a top pick was expected after an excellent career at Ohio State. The rape accusation threatened to destroy his draft-day dreams. Conley has not been arrested or charged in relation to the incident, though an investigation is ongoing.

Conley said he volunteered to take a polygraph test that was shared with NFL teams, and reportedly passed the one he took. He said in a statement there are witnesses and video evidence proving he didn’t do anything illegal.

Conley spent the last few days trying to proclaim his innocence. 

He is scheduled to meet with Cleveland police on Monday to discuss the April 9 incident -- he'll also submit a DNA sample, according to ESPN -- where group sex was suggested and a woman claimed she was sexually assaulted.

Conley believes his name will be cleared in time.

“I’m very confident it will be resolved," Conley said. "I took a test today that helps. Then when I made my statement and all the evidence that I have, I feel confident it’ll be resolved.”

Conley admits he shouldn’t have put himself in a compromising position, which occurred at a Cleveland hotel earlier this month.

“I could’ve made way better judgment,” Conley said. “I mean, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I definitely could’ve made a better decision.”

Conley hopes to move beyond it quickly and start focusing on football. He is scheduled to fly west for a press conference on Friday.

Conley is thankful to the Raiders for believing in him despite his recent troubles.

“It’s off the charts, honestly,” Conley said. “Just to know that they have faith in me, not even just as a football player but as a person like that, it speaks highly of them, and I really appreciate it. It’s an honor to be a part of the Raider organization.”

McKenzie: Raiders did their 'due diligence' before drafting Gareon Conley

McKenzie: Raiders did their 'due diligence' before drafting Gareon Conley

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders used the No. 24 overall pick on Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley. This wasn’t a second-round flier or a late-round gamble.

That’s a first-round pick. Rolling the dice this early is ill advised. The Raiders don't believe they did with a selection accompanied by a $5.78 million signing bonus, $10.5 million in total money and a valuable fifth-year option to keep a player in town.

They wouldn’t risk such an asset on someone in serious legal trouble. The Raiders did significant research on Conley, who was accused of rape earlier this week, before making a selection. Results gave the Raiders confidence in their choice. 

Conley has not been arrested or charged over an allegation that stems from an April 9 interaction in a Cleveland hotel.

Conley said the accusations are “completely false,” in a statement released by his agent. He claims to have witnesses and video evidence that he didn’t do anything illegal during an exchange where group sex was suggested. He is scheduled to meet with Cleveland police about the allegation and an investigation into it on Monday.

Conley said he took and passed polygraph test prior to the draft, hoping to avoid a free fall into the draft’s later rounds.

The Raiders clearly believe him. They wouldn’t have used such a high pick on the Ohio State cornerback otherwise. Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said the team thoroughly investigated the matter, and felt comfortable using a high pick on someone who sat alone atop their draft board at No. 24 overall.

“We did our due diligence throughout this whole process,” McKenzie said Thursday night, after making the Conley pick. “We trust our research, reports, everything that we have on Mr. Conley. We feel really good about picking Gareon Conley and having him join the Raiders team and having him be a great teammate for our players.”

McKenzie didn’t detail the Raiders research efforts, but didn’t seem concerned about this off-field issue.

“I don’t want to get into all the details,” McKenzie said, “but the bottom line is that we’ve done miles and miles of research to make sure we were totally comfortable with our decision, which we were.”

McKenzie said he spoke with owner Mark Davis about Conley, as he does most first-round options.

The Raiders were impressed by Conley’s workouts and his game tape. The rape accusation obviously gave the NFL pause regarding his draft status, and he slipped somewhat in the first round.

The Raiders are confident following an internal investigation that his legal troubles will pass without incident.

“The research was done,” McKenzie said. "It wasn’t just a gut (feeling). It was based on research, and we’re very confident in all the information that we got.”