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Eagles Should Draft Gareon Conley in the Seventh Round

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*Controversial Post Alert*

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

[Author’s note: The views expressed in this article are solely mine, and do not reflect the views of Bleeding Green Nation as a whole, SB Nation, Vox, or any other affiliates.]

Just when we were all sick of arguing over a controversial player, a new one pops up! In case you haven’t heard, highly-regarded cornerback prospect Gareon Conley was accused of rape earlier this month, and the report is just leaking now. This is causing havoc all over the NFL Draft landscape as Conley was widely considered to be a first-round pick by most and the top cornerback in the draft by some. Since there is little time to make sense of these allegations ahead of the draft this weekend, there is a good chance Conley will be taken off the draft board of many NFL teams.

I will say outright that I don’t think the Eagles should be one of those teams.

Now, before you all ask me what it’s like to hate women (some of you probably have already), let me clarify that if Conley is even arrested - suggesting the prosecution has enough evidence to move forward with a case - I don’t want him anywhere near this football team, because the only people that commit rape are human garbage and I don’t want to be associated with them in any way whatsoever. Hopefully, if Conley is responsible he will be arrested since his alleged victim did the smart thing and had a rape kit administered at a hospital. It’s a shame that it is so hard to convict rapists in our society, but thankfully rape kits can help provide valuable evidence for the state to use during the prosecution.

So, given all that, why do I think the Eagles should keep Conley on their draft board? Let’s start with the legal angle.

At the moment, Conley hasn’t done anything wrong

Rape allegations are serious, but there is a reason the cornerstone of our justice system is “innocent until proven guilty.” A lot of you will recoil at this position when it comes to rape, and I get it, but just because a certain crime touches a collective nerve doesn’t make it exempt from this reasoning. It also works both ways. You’ll never hear me claim that the alleged victim is making false accusations, because then I would be declaring her “guilty” of being dishonest without any proof. All I am saying right now is that, without any additional information, there is just as good a chance that Conley is innocent as there is that he is guilty.

Okay, so that’s the bare-bones legal mess of the situation. What about from the football perspective?

The Eagles should draft Conley in the seventh round if he is available

Here are all of the Eagles draft picks in the seventh round from the past five years.

2016
Jalen Mills, CB: Saw significant playing time as a rookie, made 62 tackles, deflected seven passes, and intercepted one.
Alex McCalister, DE: Spent the season on injured reserve
Joe Walker, LB: Looked promising in training camp, but suffered a season-ending injury during the preseason

2015
Brian Mihalik, DE: Currently an offensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers

2014
Beau Allen, DT: Rotational lineman, has started several games because of injuries to starters, seen as a role player

2013
Joe Kruger, DE: Currently a free agent
Jordan Poyer, CB: Currently listed as a safety for the Buffalo Bills
David King, DT: Currently listed as a defensive end for the Kansas City Chiefs

2012
Bryce Brown, RB: Started several games in place of an injured LeSean McCoy, was eventually traded to the Bills with a seventh round pick for a fourth and a seventh

Out of that crop of players, you have one potential starter, one role player, one player that was flipped for good value, two that have spent their (young) careers on injured reserve, and four that will never suit up for the Eagles. In other words, the seventh round is essentially a crap shoot. Why not take a flier on Conley? Sure, the controversy will be a headache until his allegations are sorted through, but it’s a very black-and-white outcome. If he isn’t charged, the whole thing dies, and if he is charged, you release him immediately and wash your hands of him. And all it cost was a seventh-round pick.

Think back to the La’el Collins debacle. He was similarly involved with a heinous crime - in his case, murder - and went undrafted. A short time later he was cleared of all potential wrongdoing and as an undrafted free agent had the luxury of signing with the Dallas Cowboys [shudders]. We could literally watch the same thing happen with the cornerback-needy Cowboys, where Conley is cleared and signs a cheap UDFA deal with Dallas to join his buddy Ezekiel Elliot.

And for those who are still uneasy with this idea, just think about La’el Collins now. Is anyone still talking about how he used to be a person of interest in the murder of a pregnant woman? Is that still a thing? No, it’s not, because he was cleared of any wrongdoing. I understand the two situations are not totally analagous - Collins was never actually accused of anything - but if Conley is cleared the result will be the same. This will be long-forgotten and the Eagles would have nabbed a potential impact player in the seventh round.

Now, if Conley is cleared but the details are still murky, there is always a chance issues like this will follow him. The Eagles have made it very clear they won’t tolerate that kind of behavior when they released Josh Huff last season. A few of you will bring up Nigel Bradham, but his case has not yet gone to trial, and like I said with Conley above everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Should Bradham be convicted, I would expect him to be released shortly thereafter, even if he manages to escape jail time. Conley will spend the first few years of his career on a seventh-round contract; he can be painlessly released should he run afoul with the law again.

Closing Thoughts

Rape allegations are always an ugly and serious issue. Nobody wants a rapist on their team, myself included. But being a rapist and being accused of rape are two entirely separate things, and I feel the difference is significant enough that it’s worth risking a seventh-round pick.

Of course, this discussion could be moot. Conley could be drafted in an earlier round by a less scrupulous team. I wouldn’t take him any earlier than the seventh, for what it’s worth. Additionally, NFL teams probably have enough clout to gather more information on this than is available to the public. If Howie and Joe have it on good authority that it’s likely Conley is guilty, then I wouldn’t go anywhere near him. He’s not the type of guy I want on my team. But if it’s shaking out to be essentially a coin flip, I wouldn’t hesitate at all to draft him if he’s there.

So what say you? If Conley is available when the Eagles are on the clock with the 230th pick, would you take him?

Poll

Should the Eagles draft Conley in the seventh if he is available?

This poll is closed

  • 92%
    Sure, why not? It’s the 230th pick!
    (3035 votes)
  • 7%
    GTFO
    (259 votes)
3294 votes total Vote Now