Gutierrez: Where do Raiders go from here at TE?

387720.jpg

Gutierrez: Where do Raiders go from here at TE?

August 3, 2011GUTIERREZ ARCHIVE
RAIDERS PAGE RAIDERS VIDEOFollow @PGutierrezCSN
Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.comOK, Raider Nation, you've had a night to sleep on it.Now that Zach Miller has chosen Seattle, Tom Cable and a guaranteed 17 million over returning to Oakland, what do you think the Raiders' next move should be at tight end?The answer seems obvious, at least by your responses to the poll on my Facebook "fan" page, where a whopping 78 percent of you voted for Al Davis to put the full-court press on unrestricted free agent Kevin Boss.The feeling, apparently, is mutual.
NEWS: Seahawks sign TE Miller away from Raiders
Last week on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Boss told host Adam Schein he was keeping tabs on the Miller situation and that Oakland would "interest" him if Miller left, what with Boss being from the West Coast and all.So now with Miller gone, Boss, who played college ball at Western Oregon and was selected in the same 2007 draft as Miller would seemingly help ease the pain.Miller is the more accomplished pass catcher, with 226 receptions for 2,712 yards and a Pro Bowl invitation, compared to Boss' 119 receptions for 1,600 yards and a Super Bowl ring with the New York Giants as a rookie.But Boss has been more dangerous in the red zone, coming up with 18 touchdown catches, compared to Miller's 12 TDs. And, many see Boss as a better run blocker, though Miller is underrated in that area.At 6-feet-7, Boss is also two inches taller than Miller.But does that make him the obvious target, not only for Al Davis in training camp, but for quarterback Jason Campbell in actual games?Or is it another pipe dream? Could the Raiders already have the answer in house?Brandon Myers jumps to the top of the depth chart and played admirably when Miller was slowed by injury the past two seasons. But few, if any, see Myers maintaining the role needed in new coach Hue Jackson's system.Plus, the Raiders drafted a tight end in the sixth round out of Miami in Richard Gordon and seventh-rounder David Ausberry from USC is impressing in camp as he gets snaps at tight end.Then, there's the wild card - fullback Marcel Reece. He was a receiver in college and caught 25 passes out of the backfield for 333 yards last season with three touchdowns. Might he be able to make the conversion to tight end? Thing is, he's only 6-3, 240 pounds, not quite the size of the Raiders' prototypical tight end.So where do the Raiders go from here? Time is of the essence since veteran free agents signed after the lockout can begin practicing Thursday. And the exhibition opener is Aug. 11.That's eight more nights to sleep on it, Raider Nation.

Defense remains in demand, but Raiders won't reach 'to satisfy a need'

Defense remains in demand, but Raiders won't reach 'to satisfy a need'

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders needed cornerback help and got some by drafting Gareon Conley 24th overall. General manager Reggie McKenzie insists he didn’t select solely to fill a need.

“This was totally the draft board,” he said Thursday night. “I mean, it was hands down the best player left on our board.”

Head coach Jack Del Rio chipped away at that stance a bit, clearly happy to get a good player in an area where he can help right away.

“A lot of us guys say that this time of year though, don’t we?” Del Rio said with a laugh. “Definitely was a happy moment for us.”

Conley was a top 15 talent, with stock driving south by a sexual assault allegation made public this week that is being investigated by Cleveland. He has not been charged or arrested in regard to the April 9 incident.

The Raiders are confident he’ll be cleared, leaving them with an excellent value that could provide long-term production in the secondary.

Cornerback wasn’t the only Raiders need. They’re in desperate need of an inside linebacker – they passed on Alabama’s Reuben Foster – and could used depth at defensive tackle and safety.

McKenzie says he’ll continue to follow his draft board over reaching for a specific position. The Raiders were happy to acquire Conley, and hope more value comes their way.

“Well, hopefully there’s Day 2 that will fall the same way,” McKenzie said. “We’re going to still follow our board. We know our needs, but, we will not let, we feel, a great player slip by just to satisfy a need. We will follow our board, that’s for sure. There are a lot of good players, so we’re expecting a good day tomorrow.”

Matching need and value is the ultimate goal. If that occurs, expect a defensive slant to the rest of this draft. They need early impact players and depth at every level of their defense. They might consider an offensive tackle, with uncertainty at right tackle and Donald Penn unsure if he’ll play beyond the 2017 season. It seems unlikely the Raiders go for a running back unless it’s late, after acquiring Marshawn Lynch this week.

There’s plenty of talent heading into the second round. Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham is the best inside linebacker on the board, with Florida’s Alex Anzalone and LSU’s Kendall Beckwith behind him. Malik McDowell and Caleb Wormley and are intriguing defensive line options. Cam Robinson is considered the best offensive tackle left on the board, though he's likely gone before the Raiders pick.

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.”