The sudden cloud that emerged over cornerback Gareon Conley’s draft stock earlier this week seemed to instantly knock him out of round one. As the hours have passed, however, teams have had time to learn more about the situation. Most have the resources to talk to the witnesses and/or to have off-the-record conversations with law enforcement in Cleveland to find out what’s really going on.
Still, the risk for any team that considers Conley in round one, where he definitely would have been drafted but for this incident, flows from the possibility that he’ll eventually be charged with rape. If that happens, the G.M. that made the recommendation to ownership would instantly have a major, major problem.
Except in Dallas, where the G.M. and the owner are the same person.
It should surprise no one if the Cowboys put Conley’s name on a draft card tonight. Jerry Jones is riding a wave of acclimations and influence, a Hall of Famer and a relocation dealmaker who has been dubbed the “shadow commissioner” by ESPN The Magazine. The dice have been fairly hot for him lately, starting with the chance he took two years ago on La’el Collins as an undrafted free agent.
OK, it hasn’t been an unblemished run. Greg Hardy was a mistake, as was Randy Gregory. But Jones has the urgency to get back to the Super Bowl and win it with a team he can claim credit for building (even if others in the building and/or family deserve a lot of the credit, too), and if Jones can get a guy who would have been gone by the middle of the round at No. 28, that’s a major bonus.
Given that the team had two key cornerbacks leave during free agency (along with other defensive defections), the need is there. And the fear of repercussions won’t be, because Jones the owner ain’t firing Jones the G.M., no matter what.