Former Ohio State cornerback and potential first-round pick Gareon Conley has chosen not to attend the NFL draft after sexual assault allegations surrounding him surfaced Tuesday.
Source: #OhioSt CB Gareon Conley has decided not to be in Philadelphia for the 2017 NFL Draft.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 25, 2017
Conley is alleged to have raped a woman in a Cleveland hotel, though he adamantly denies it and his lawyer has said there are three witnesses who would corroborate his denial (more on that here).
The young man is innocent until proven guilty, but it’s probably best for Conley, and whoever drafts him, if he’s not on camera Thursday night. The last thing any team wants is for ESPN to zoom in on Conley after the pick is made and begin a discussion about how Team X just picked an accused rapist.
No doubt ESPN should and probably will address this on the broadcast. No doubt these allegations will factor into the teams’ decisions surrounding him for reasons other than PR (though, given the NFL’s history on these issues, there is some doubt that it will keep him from being drafted, however).
From Conley’s perspective, this is an easy decision.