The midseason trade for Gareon Conley paid off for the Houston Texans’ secondary.
The Houston Texans were able to see the best side of Gareon Conley since he was drafted 24th overall by the Oakland Raiders in the 2017 NFL Draft. Selected in the same year that the Texans drafted Deshaun Watson, Conley was one of the better prospects at his position before some off the field issues pushed him down draft boards to the Raiders.
Conley had his ups and downs in Oakland, which allowed him to be available in trade talks with other teams around the league. However, the Texans decided to exchange a 2020 third-rounder from the Seattle Seahawks to take on Conley’s team-friendly deal and potential upside that he demonstrated in Ohio State that made him a top tier first-round prospect.
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The Texans needed to add talent to their cornerback group with injuries to their roster in Bradley Roby and Phillip Gaines; meanwhile, the team decided to waive Aaron Colvin after a disappointing performance in the season opener.
Through that stretch, the secondary relied on the hopes of Johnathan Joseph remaining healthy and unexpected contributions from Lonnie Johnson and Keion Crossen. Acquiring Conley paid off for the Texans.
It allowed the Texans to utilize an athletic physical defensive back better suited to defend receivers than Crossen, who was a special team contributor or Johnson who was in his first season in the NFL as a rookie from Kentucky.
Despite viewed as a promising prospect coming out of college, Conley didn’t pan out as expected in the Raiders defensive scheme, but the change of scenario was all he needed when he arrived in Houston.
Conley put up career-high numbers across the board in the Texans defense. He allowed a 52.2 percentage when thrown his direction, 87.1 quarterback rating, two touchdowns, and conceded an average of 12.5 yards per reception through eight games.
With Roby and Joseph hitting free agency in 2020, it paid off for the Texans to have a young talented cornerback under contract for two more seasons if they pick up the fifth-year option in his rookie-scale deal.