Will Burris' relentlessness translate to the NFL?


Will Burris' relentlessness translate to the NFL?

Programming note: Tune in to SportsNet Central tonight at 6, 10:30 p.m. and midnight for our latest Meet the Rookies segment with Raiders LB Miles Burris, only on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area!

The book on Miles Burris, the Raiders' fourth-round draft pick out of San Diego State, is this -- high motor, relentless, never gives up on a play but can be overaggressive at times. No wonder many observers wonder if he can see time at middle linebacker.Throughout much of the Raiders' three-day mandatory minicamp, though, Burris shadowed Aaron Curry around the field at weakside linebacker, and per coach Dennis Allen, the Raiders want to keep Burris on the outside for the time being, lest he become overloaded in his first year."Yeah, right now (I'm) trying to get my bearings a little bit at 'Will' and I think the more immersed I become in this defense and the more comfortable I get with it, the more Ill understand the other two linebacker spots as well," said Burris, who is the subject of Friday night's "Meet the Rookies" on CSN Bay Area's SportsNet Central."Thats just going to be with time and reps. Repetitions the mother of learning, so Im just trying to do that. Even when Im off the field, just taking mental reps and taking advantage of every opportunity."At San Diego State, Burris played on the outside in an unconventional 3-3-5 defensive scheme, making the adjustment to the Raiders' seeming base 4-3 alignment part of his learning curve."But I think with maybe other guys that have played in a 4-3, theyve done a lot of the same things, its just different terminology," he said. "But Im getting there. Im getting a little bit better every day. Still making some mistakes that I shouldnt but Im just focusing on getting better every day and focusing on one day at a time."Right now the No. 1 goal is just making the team. I think that should be the No. 1 goal of any rookie, and trying to make an impact in whatever way the coaches want me to."Of course, the story would not be complete without a pseudo-local angle, right?Yes, the Granite Bay kid from just outside of Sacramento paid mind to the Bay Area football teams."I was more of a Raider fan growing up," he said. "I've been to a lot more Raider games and had a good time watching the Silver and Black and thought about how much it would be to put those colors on and play in that stadium, so I'm really looking forward to that."If I can make this team, that's the goal."

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.”